The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have announced that assistance will be available to farmers whose crops were damaged by severe flooding from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.

USDA and FDA are working closely together to ensure that farmers with flood-damaged crops that cannot be marketed are compensated for their losses.

FDA considers ready-to-eat crops whose edible portion has been in contact with flood waters to be adulterated due to potential exposure to sewage, animal waste, heavy metals, pathogenic microorganisms, or other contaminants.

Therefore, these crops should not enter the food or animal feed supply.

Crops insured by federal crop insurance or by the Non-insured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) are covered when floodwaters have rendered them valueless.

"We are working closely with FDA to protect people and livestock from damaged crops, while not penalizing the farmer whose crops are affected," said Michael Scuse, Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.

"I want to assure insured farmers they are covered under the federal crop insurance program for crops not harvested due to flood damage. America's farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation's economy, producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow and out-compete the rest of the world."

"We empathize with the farmers who are dealing with the loss of crops due to recent flooding," said FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael R. Taylor.

"We all share the goal of protecting the food supply. We are working directly with USDA on damage response and will consult with them on assistance for farmers following our guidance to keep damaged crops out of the food supply."

Additionally, disposition of crops in proximity to, or exposed to a lesser degree of flooding, where the edible portion of the crop has not come in contact with flood waters, may need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. FDA experts are available for these through local FDA district offices.

USDA encourages all farmers and ranchers to contact their crop insurance companies and local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Centers, as applicable, to report damages to crops or livestock loss.

More information about federal crop insurance may be found at www.rma.usda.gov. Additional resources to help farmers and ranchers deal with flooding may be found at http://www.usda.gov/disaster.