USDA announced Oct. 13 that it has designated 60 counties in Iowa as part of a Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation. That means farm operators who have suffered major production and/or physical losses caused by combined effects of severe storms, excessive rain, flooding, flash flooding, hail, high winds, lightning, tornadoes, landslides, mudslides, excessive heat and drought beginning April 1, 2011 and continuing may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans. Other programs may also be made available to assist farmers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program.
John Whitaker, state executive director for USDA's Farm Service Agency in Iowa, provides the following explanation as to which counties are eligible:
Primary counties: A Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation has been issued for twenty-seven Iowa counties as the primary disaster area. These primary counties are: Clarke, Davis, Decatur, Fremont, Henry, Jefferson, Jones, Keokuk, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Lucas, Mahaska, Marshall, Mills, Monona, Monroe, Montgomery, Page, Polk, Tama, Taylor, Van Buren, Wapello, Washington, Wayne, and Woodbury.
Contiguous counties: Thirty-three Iowa counties are contiguous to this designated disaster area, making these producers also potentially eligible for program based on this designation. The contiguous counties are: Adams, Appanoose, Benton, Black Hawk, Boone, Buchanan, Cass, Cedar, Cherokee, Clinton, Crawford, Dallas, Delaware, Des Moines, Dubuque, Grundy, Hardin, Harrison, Ida, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Muscatine, Plymouth, Pottawattamie, Poweshiek, Ringgold, Story, Union, and Warren.
Who is eligible to receive an FSA Emergency Loan?
FSA may make Emergency Loans to eligible family farmers which will enable them to return to their normal operations if they sustained qualifying losses resulting from natural disaster, says Whitaker. Physical loss loans may be made to eligible farmers to enable them to repair or replace damaged or destroyed physical property, including livestock losses, essential to the success of the farming operation.
Examples of property commonly affected include: essential farm buildings, fixtures to real estate, equipment, livestock, perennial crops, fruit and nut bearing trees, and harvested or stored crops. For production loss loans, the disaster yield must be at least 30% below the normal production yield of the crop, on a crop or crops that make up a basic part of the total farming operation.
Applicants must be unable to obtain credit from other usual sources to qualify for the FSA Farm Loan Program assistance. The interest rate for emergency loans is 3.75%. Each applicant applying for credit will be given equal consideration without regard to race, creed, color, marital status, or national origin.
What are terms of repayment of the loan, when is deadline to apply?
Repayment for most disaster loans is based on the useful life of the security, the applicant's repayment ability and type of loss. If a loan is secured only on crops, it must be repaid when the next crop year's income is received. Loans to replace fixtures to real estate may be scheduled for repayment for up to 40 years.
The final date for making application under this designation is June 12, 2012.
Interested farmers should contact their local county FSA office for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Information can also be found on-line at www.fsa.usda.gov.