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Guam farmers hit hard by Typhoon Dolphin

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A series of fortunate events left one Dededo farmer counting his blessings following Typhoon Dolphin. Ernest Wusstig has been a farmer in Guam for over two decades and said when the storm hit, he thought he would lose all.

"I mean, the wind was so strong, my barn I thought it was going to go. I said all the crops are going to go," he remembered. Wusstig battled winds and rains the morning after the storm to salvage what he could from his five acres of destroyed crops. Fortunately, he was able to sell all the corn he salvaged to a local supermarket the following day.

But Wusstig's luck didn't end there. A water outage in Yigo left Wusstig afraid his remaining crops would be left high and dry. "If it doesn't rain in the next three days, then I might as well lose the whole crop. Because all it takes for the corn, if it starts pollinating and it got dried, it won't pollinate right, then I'll just lose it."

But again, Wusstig got lucky as water was restored to his area late Monday evening.

Meanwhile, fruit farmers such as Tom and Maria Sapp weren't so lucky. "I'd say 85% of its gone," Tom estimated.

Department of Agriculture acting director Matthew Sablan said his agency is conducting preliminary surveys to determine the economic loss resulting from Typhoon Dolphin, and should have results in by Thursday. As for farmers facing losses, however, a federal insurance program is available to help. Wusstig said, "I do have insurance, a NAP under the NAP program on the Farm Services Agency."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program provides coverage to us citizens or permanent resident aliens, who are commercial farmers with verifiable documentation such as sales receipts or tax documents. "I'm asking all farmers to please, go to the Farm Service Agency and apply for NAP program," pleaded Wusstig. "So when a disaster hit like this, you can be covered."

Fees for the program are waived for eligible applicants. The application deadline is December 1, 2015 for the year 2016. For more information you can contact the Farm Services Agency at 472-7568.

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