Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, along with other Washington lawmakers, has addressed a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. They are urging him to expedite a Secretarial Disaster Designation for the 2023 sweet cherry harvest in Washington.
Unusual weather patterns, including unseasonably high temperatures in Washington and adverse weather in California, led to a shorter season for Washington growers and an oversupply of sweet cherries. The letter states, “Pacific Northwest growers suffered significant economic losses and were forced to leave as much as 35 percent of the crop unharvested due to this weather-driven disaster. We understand data provided to USDA indicates growers experienced losses of more than 50 percent.”
A Secretarial Disaster Designation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would enable sweet cherry growers to access low-interest emergency loans, bridging operations into the 2024 season. The decision is currently pending with USDA Farm Service Agency officials.
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