Kings Co supervisors declare ag disaster

FRESNO, Calif.

Now help could be on the way in Kings County.

Today Kings County Supervisors officially declared a disaster after an unusual hail storm ripped through some of the county's most precious crops.

That means farmers who have damaged fruit like these nectarines could see some financial relief.

John Warmerdam grows plums, cherries, nectarines and peaches northeast of Hanford. Last month two of his three groves were damaged from torrential hail storms.

As Warmerdam looks through his nectarine crop it's rare for him to find a piece of fruit that's marketable. Most nectarines were hit by hail three or four times each.

"After everything is said and done we might have a quarter of a crop, maybe a little bit more," Warmerdam said.

The damage to Warmerdam's crop and other nearby farmers is what prompted Kings County Supervisors to unanimously approve a disaster declaration from the hail storm.

Supervisor Doug Verboon says the hail caused close to $25 million dollars in damage to Kings County's high-end stone fruits and cherries. A disaster declaration could bring farmers some financial relief from the losses.

"This opens the doors for farmers that have insurance it lets insurance companies start process to start paying them back for the loss of income to their crops and also opens the doors for loans for farmers that don't have insurance on their crops that they can still be in business next year," Kings County Supervisor Doug Verboon said.

Verboon also grows walnut and lost one-third of his crop to April's hail storm.

"The nuts at that stage were real tender and knocked the buds off," Verboon said.

Warmerdam says his plums got hit the hardest from the hail. He's hoping the disaster declaration will give him some return for his loss.

"But it'll just be at the minimum amount, less than the cost to take care of the orchards for a year," Warmerdam said.

Warmderdam is still trying to salvage as much of his crop as he can but he tells me the cost to do that could be even more than his losses.

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