Cherry growers in Washington State are now eligible for Emergency Farm Loans following a formal disaster declaration for the 2023 harvest.

A Congressional news release on the federal assistance says unseasonably high temperatures in Washington, combined with heavy rains and cold weather in California, led to a shorter season for Washington growers and an oversupply of sweet cherries last year.

Many growers in Washington state were forced to leave crop unharvested and experienced significant economic losses.

Washington's U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D) and Patty Murray (D), along with 8th District Congresswoman Kim Schrier (D), announced Tuesday that sweet cherry growers in Washington are eligible for up to $500,000 in federal Emergency Farm Loans following a formal disaster declaration from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The lawmakers sent a letter to Vilsack last month asking for the declaration.

“Last year, Washington’s cherry growers lost around half their crop to extreme weather," said Senator Cantwell in a news release. "Now, as they prepare to kick off their new season, this disaster designation from the Secretary of Agriculture will help growers access federal assistance to keep this $1 billion industry going – and ensure Washington’s famously delicious sweet cherries make it into shopping carts."

There are 11 primary counties eligible for relief in the disaster declaration. They include five in North Central Washington - Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan and Kittitas counties as well as Adams, Benton, Franklin, Klickitat, Walla Walla and Yakima counties.

Sweet cherry famers can use the the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Loan Assistance Tool to help determine program or loan options.

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