The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Escambia, Jackson and Santa Rosa counties in Florida as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by excessive rain that occurred from April 4, 2014, through May 2, 2014. Additionally Cherokee, Greenville and Spartanburg counties in South Carolina have been designated as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by freeze that occurred from March 4, 2014, through April 17, 2014.
“Our hearts go out to those Florida and South Carolina farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Florida and South Carolina producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”
Farmers and ranchers in Bay, Calhoun, Gadsden, Holmes, Liberty, Okaloosa and Washington counties in Florida also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.
Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Alabama and Georgia also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.
Farmers and ranchers in Abbeville, Anderson, Laurens, Pickens, Union and York counties in South Carolina also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.
Farmers and ranchers in Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties in North Carolina also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.
All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Aug. 6, 2014, 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.
Additional programs available to assist farmers and ranchers include the Emergency Conservation Program, The Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, and the Tree 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.