News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

August 16, 2012

All 92 Indiana counties now designated primary or contiguous natural disaster areas

INDIANAPOLIS — Julia A. Wickard, state executive director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Indiana announced Wednesday evening that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated an additional 12 counties to the original 66 counties in Indiana as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by extreme drought. The 12 new counties include Adams, Benton, Dearborn, Decatur, Fayette, Franklin, Jennings, Ripley, Starke, Union, Washington and Wayne.

"Today with the U.S. Drought Monitor fast track designation process, all 92 counties have been declared primary or contiguous natural disaster areas. This is good news for Indiana farmers as they all qualify for USDA low interest emergency loans," Wickard said. "At this time no other disaster assistance is available as the disaster programs in the 2008 Farm Bill authorized by Congress expired in September 2011. So, until Congress moves forward on a new Farm Bill the only relief is low interest emergency loans."

Seven additional counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous to the designated counties. The seven new counties include Clark, Floyd, Jefferson, Newton, Ohio, Porter and Switzerland.        

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Aug. 15, 2012, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from 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

Recent changes in the disaster program will provide faster and more flexible assistance to farmers devastated by natural disasters. 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 at http://www.usda.gov/disaster.

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