Bell County included in USDA primary disaster areas
Friday, 27 January 2012 by Justin Cox
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 40 counties in Texas as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by drought, excessive heat, high winds and wildfires that occurred during the early months of 2011.
"Based on the extreme agricultural disaster conditions here in Central Texas over the last year, the designation is a welcome relief for our area farms and ranches, and our overall economy," Rep. John Carter said. "From a slow start earlier this year in declaring disaster areas, I am pleased that the majority of our counties now qualify for some assistance."
Bell County officially qualified for natural disaster relief on Jan. 3, 2012, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency, 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. Each loan application will be considered 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.
"Texas farmers have experienced severe drought conditions over a long period of time, which has caused major losses to a wide variety of crops such as forage crops, pasture, corn, oats and wheat," said Texas Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We are committed to using the resources at our disposal to reduce the impact of these disasters on Texas producers and help to get those affected back on their feet."
USDA also has made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program, 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.
Secretary Vilsack also reminded producers that the department's authority to operate the five disaster assistance programs authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30, 2011. Production losses in the counties are covered because the event triggering the loss occurred prior to the expiration of these programs; however, production losses due to disasters occurring after Sept. 30, 2011, are not eligible for disaster program coverage.