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County affected by drought declaration

Governor Robert Bentley and Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan announced last Friday that farmers in nearly half of Alabama’s counties will be eligible for low-interest federal loans as a result of a drought emergency declaration by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack.

“While much of the state has received rain this week, it is not enough to eliminate the severe and extreme drought conditions that many places are experiencing,” Governor Bentley said.  “Farmers across Alabama are suffering through what has been an extended drought from last year.  We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s response to this critical situation that affects so many Alabama families.”

In a July 12 letter to Governor Bentley, Secretary Vilsack designated the following 33 counties as “primary natural disaster areas” suffering from severe or extreme drought:

Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Bullock, Butler, Chambers, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coffee, Conecuh, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Dallas, Elmore, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Perry, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Talladega, Tallapoosa and Wilcox

An additional 12 counties were named as “contiguous disaster counties.”  Those counties are also eligible for federal low-interest loans and include:

Calhoun, Cherokee, Clarke, Hale, Jefferson, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, St. Clair, Shelby, Tuscaloosa and Washington

“There are many growers of commodity crops such as corn, soybeans, cotton and peanuts, who have suffered damage from the drought,” said Commissioner McMillan of the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries.  “Farmers should contact their local office of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to determine their eligibility and begin the process for loan application.”

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on July 12, 2012, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans at 2.25 percent 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.

FSA State Executive Director Daniel Robinson encourages all farmers and ranchers to contact their crop insurance companies and local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Centers, as applicable, to report damages to crops or livestock loss.

In addition, he also reminds livestock producers to keep thorough records of losses, including additional expenses for such things as food purchased due to lost supplies.

More information about federal crop insurance may be found at www.rma.usda.gov. Additional resources to

help farmers and ranchers deal with the drought may be found at http://www.usda.gov/disaster.

Additional counties could be added to the declaration in the coming weeks as the USDA Drought Monitor (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu) provides weekly reports on drought conditions.  The counties declared as primary natural disaster areas this week have faced severe drought conditions for at least eight consecutive weeks or extreme drought conditions at any time during the growing season.

McMillan noted that farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance.  FSA will consider each emergency loan application based on objective standards with regard to production losses, security available and repayment ability.