2012-07-24 / Front Page

Owen And Putnam Counties Both Designated Natural Disaster Areas

Local Farmers Eligible For USDA Emergency Low Interest Loans
Staff Report

As of July 16, Owen and Putnam counties joined 48 of Indiana’s 92 counties declared primary natural disaster areas by the United States Department of Agriculture. Despite a few erratic hard rains in portions of Owen and Putnam on Wednesday and Thursday, the announcement comes as good news for many local farmers who have lost much of their anticipated 2012 crop to drought.

“Indiana Farm Service Agency and its employees are committed to helping farmers navigate the multitude of programs that may be available in eligible counties,” FSA Indiana State Executive Director Julia Wickard said in a press release. “The summer of 2012 will not be long forgotten by those producers and their families that were negatively impacted by severe dry weather. USDA is here to assist.”

Owen and surrounding counties such as Greene, Clay, Putnam and Monroe are among the counties in which qualified farm operators are eligible to receive low interest emergency loans.

An additional 24 counties are also eligible for assistance because they are contiguous to the designated counties.

Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Recent changes in the disaster program will provide faster and more flexible assistance to farmers devastated by natural di- sasters. There are three significant improvements related to Secretarial disaster designations: a final rule that simplifies the process for Secretarial disaster designations and will result in a 40 percent reduction in processing time for most counties affected by disasters; a reduced interest rate for emergency loans that effectively lowers the current rate from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent; and a payment reduction on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands qualified for emergency haying and grazing in 2012, from 25 to 10 percent.

USDA encourages all farmers to contact their crop insurance companies and local FSA offices, as applicable, to report damages to crops or livestock loss. In addition, USDA reminds livestock producers to keep thorough records of losses, including additional expenses for such things as feed purchased due to lost supplies.

Additional resources to help farmers deal with drought may be found online at: www.usda.gov/disaster.

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