Farmers in 14 New Jersey counties — including Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean — have been granted a Natural Disaster Designation for losses from Hurricane Sandy and other weather-related damages between June 28 and Nov. 8.

The South Jersey counties were designated “primary natural disaster areas,” which means local farmers lost at least 30 percent of their crops. Area farmers are now eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency, which includes loans covering up to 100 percent of the dollar value of the losses, United States Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack announced Friday.

“We are very thankful to Secretary Vilsack for giving our farmers the opportunity to access the USDA’s disaster relief programs,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher in a statement. “In spite of the many weather-related issues faced by agriculture in 2012, the season was an overall success.”

Farmers can contact their local FSA office at

For more information on FSA’s disaster assistance programs, visit

Joel Landau