Lee County --- Because of the severity of the drought conditions over the last three years, almost all Lee County farmers are expected to sign up for crop disaster benefits.
The United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency office in Leesburg has been busy with farmers signing up for the crop disaster program. Farmers who lost 35 percent of their expected production in one of the last three years are eligible to receive direct payment benefits.
F.S.A. Officials say they expect at least 80 percent of Lee County farmers to qualify because of the spring and early summer's drought and record high temperatures. Lee Co. Farm Service Agency Director Hank Hammond said "we did get a little rain later on, but a lot of times the crop had already been made or adversely affected at that point of time. That's what this program is for, to help these farmers out just a little bit."
There is also a disaster program for livestock producers. The crop disaster program sign up now is for quantity losses, but a quality crop loss program will begin sign ups the first of the year.