Maryland has set up a "hay and feed hot line" for the state's farmers whose dairy herds and livestock need help because of the drought, and for farmers with hay and feed to sell.
The new service "is being set up to assist . . . farmers hard hit by the 1986 drought," said Wayne A. Cawley, the state agriculture secretary. "Our dairy and livestock farmers face emergency conditions right now. Some are being forced to feed 1986 cuttings because there is no pasture growth."
Gov. Harry Hughes has asked the federal government to declare 21 of 23 counties federal disaster areas because of the driest summer in Maryland in more than 100 years. Eligible farmers in areas that receive such a designation will be able to receive low-interest loans and other forms of aid from the U.S. Agriculture Department.
Counties have reported $89 million in losses to crops and livestock, and Hughes has said he expects the damage to reach $100 million once all the figures are in.
Farmers can call the Maryland hot line desk on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 841-5770. At night and on weekends, farmers should call a recorded answering system at 1-800-638-2209 and leave their name, telephone number and whether they need hay and feed or want to sell supplies, Cawley said.