2011-07-07 / Front Page

Lee County Named Natural Disaster Area

Low Interest Loans Available

Lee County is one of 213 counties in the state of Texas designated by the U. S. Department of Agriculture last week as a primary natural disaster area after one of the worst droughts in more than a century. The state sustained excessive heat, high winds and wildfires that burned hundreds of thousands of acres.

This disaster designation means affected farmers and ranchers can apply for low interest loans from the US Government.

Lee/ Bastrop County Farm Bureau President Mike Organ said, “Farmers and Ranchers in Lee and Bastrop Counties welcome any and all assistance, given the losses they have suffered over the past several years and are still enduring.”

“Many producers have lost their crops due to the devastation caused by the drought and wildfires,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I want these farmers and ranchers to know that we will support them through the recovery process and help them once again become productive suppliers of food, fiber and fuel that keep America prospering. This designation will help provide that support.”

The drought, wildfires and other natural disasters, which began Jan. 1, 2011, and continues, caused 30 percent or more loss of forage crops, pasture, corn, oats and wheat in the 213 stricken counties. Farmers and ranchers in the other 41 contiguous counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance.

All counties listed as natural disaster areas on June 24, 2011 make all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency ( FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. 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.

USDA also has made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program ( SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. A complete list of all counties affected and additional information is available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

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