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The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared 11 Washington counties as primary natural disaster areas after a harsh 2023 season for cherry growers. Emergency loans of $500,000 were made available to farmers.

Joanna Kosinska / Unsplash

Washington’s sweet cherry growers can now apply for federal aid to help them bounce back from a disastrous 2023 season.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making $500,000 loans available to growers who lost crops — and cash — to poor conditions.

RELATED: $10 cherry grown in Washington state

Washington’s Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and Rep. Kim Schrier requested this help in a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“Through no fault of their own, our cherry growers experienced immense challenges and economic losses last season, with data showing growers experienced losses of more than 50%,” Schrier said in a statement. “That’s why I proudly joined my colleagues in the Washington delegation in calling for a disaster declaration to help our growers recover and prepare for this upcoming growing season.”

Extreme high temperatures in Washington state, and heavy rains in California, led to a bad season for growers, who ultimately lost about half their crops. The USDA declared 11 Washington counties as “primary natural disaster areas.” They included Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, Walla Walla, and Yakima.

RELATED: Rare, super-luxe greenhouse Northwest cherries fetch top dollar in Asia

In a statement, Cantwell said this disaster designation would help keep cherry industry going this season — “and ensure Washington’s famously delicious sweet cherries make it into shopping carts.”

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