June 11, 2011 at 12:04 AM CDT - Updated June 24 at 8:48 AM
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 23 counties in Missouri as primary natural disaster areas after historic flooding along with excessive rain and high winds caused severe agricultural damage as well as losses to wheat, forage, corn, cotton, rice and soybeans.
"The devastation caused by the flooding has created a hardship for many Missouri producers and their families," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "President Obama and I want these farmers and ranchers to know that we are here for them and we will support them through the recovery process and help them to once again become productive suppliers of food, fiber and fuel to keep America prospering. This designation will help to provide that support."
The flooding and other natural disasters-which began April 1 and continues-caused 30 percent or more crop loss in the following counties: Butler, Dunklin, Howell, Mississippi, New Madrid, Oregon, Pemiscot, Ripley, Scott and Stoddard.
Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Arkansas also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous: Clay, Craighead, Greene, Mississippi, Randolph and Sharp.
All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas June 9, 2011, making 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.
The 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. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.