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Many Virginia farmers face emergency as drought conditions persist in state

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A drought warning remains in effect for the Shenandoah Valley and Northern Virginia, and farmers, in particular, are feeling the effects.

While scattered thunderstorms have occurred in some areas throughout the state, the report indicates there is exceptional dryness within the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont regions.

Nearly all of Virginia is much below normal and is under a drought advisory watch or warning.

With the watches and warnings, farmers may be eligible for emergency assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. The assistance includes emergency loans. Farmers in eligible localities have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans.

This is the second consecutive year that farmers have experienced drought conditions across much of Virginia with more than 60 localities receiving a disaster designation in 2023, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Farmers affected by drought conditions are relying on irrigation to keep their crops growing, but that can be expensive.

“Droughts can severely impact agriculture by reducing crop and forage yields, and lead to additional cost for feed, watering and destocking livestock,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr. “Droughts also reduce growth in our forest and increase the risks of forest fires.

“We can all take steps to help our farmers by conserving water and buying local.”

The last report from the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force was issued on July 1. The outlook extends through July 15. The task force will meet again on July 16.

The drought declaration was made by the Virginia Department of Environment Quality on June 24.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.