FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Friday for a disaster declaration on behalf of Kentucky farmers following severe storms and flooding that have hit the state since April 17.
"Reports indicate that Kentucky farmers have significant losses of crops and infrastructure, and the conditions have critically impacted spring plantings," Beshear said in a statement. "The severe storms and flooding have significantly impacted Kentucky's farms and assistance from the USDA is critical and necessary to offset resulting income losses."
Beshear's request covers the counties of Ballard, Graves, Marion, Breckinridge, Hancock, Marshall, Caldwell, Henderson, McCracken, Carlisle, Hickman, McLean, Crittenden, Hopkins, Muhlenberg, Daviess, Livingston, Union, Fulton, Lyon and Webster.
Beshear asked the White House on Thursday for a presidential disaster declaration to get assistance from a wide array of federal programs.
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Beshear said Friday that the widespread effects of the flooding continue to impact Kentuckians across the state as rivers that have not yet crested continue to rise.
He said his written request to Vilsack is the necessary first step to initiate the process for a secretarial disaster designation. It is necessary for several USDA disaster assistance programs to become available to farmers across the states.
Additional counties may be added to the request at a later date if conditions warrant.
Information about USDA Disaster Assistance Programs and the Secretarial Disaster Designation process are available at Fsa.usda.gov by clicking on the Disaster Assistance Programs link in the left-hand column.
Beshear also directed the state Transportation Cabinet on Friday to temporarily suspend certain regulatory restrictions on motor carriers and utility vehicles engaged in Kentucky's flood relief effort, such as delivering food, water, medicine and other critical supplies.
"My administration will do whatever it takes to help our citizens recover from this disaster as quickly as possible," he said. "Our action will help expedite the delivery of critically needed supplies and emergency services to communities that have been stricken."
Under the order, which is effective until May 15, drivers can be exempt from maximum driving times and from the requirement to stop at weigh stations. The order also authorizes the Transportation Cabinet's Department of Vehicle Regulation to waive size and weight restrictions when appropriate.
Carriers must still obtain permits and comply with other safety requirements.