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USDA designates five counties as primary natural disaster areas

6/11/2013 at 12:00 a.m.

Ashley, Benton, Calhoun, and Washington counties have been designated by USDA as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by frost and freezing temperatures that occurred April 18-22. Additionally, another 10 counties (Bradley, Chicot, Crawford, Drew, Carroll, Cleveland, Dallas, Madison, Union, Ouachita) also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous to the primary disaster areas. 

Additiionally, Monroe County has been designated as a primary natural disaster area due to damages and losses caused by high winds, hail and a tornado that occurred April 27. Farmers and ranchers in Arkansas, Phillips, St. Francis, Lee, Prairie and Woodruff counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. 

“Our hearts go out to those Arkansas farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President (Barack) 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 Arkansas producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.” 

All counties listed were designated natural disaster areas June 5, 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, 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.

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