Government designates 213 counties in Texas as natural disaster areas
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 213 counties in Texas as primary natural disaster areas after one of the worst droughts in more than a century, according to a June 27 USDA press release. The state sustained excessive heat, high winds, and wildfires that burned hundreds of thousands of acres.
The drought, wildfires and other natural disasters -- which began Jan. 1, 2011, and continue -- caused 30 percent or more loss of forage crops, pasture, corn, oats, and wheat in 213 counties, including Atascosa, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Karnes counties.
Farmers and ranchers in Bexar and Wilson counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.
These counties were designated natural disaster areas June 24, 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. The Farm Service Agency will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability. The Farm Service Agency has a variety of programs, in addition to the emergency 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.