BOISE • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated three more counties in Idaho as primary natural disaster areas due to the recent drought.
Gooding, Jerome and Lincoln counties have now joined the ranks of Elmore, Owyhee and Twin Falls counties as primary natural disaster counties, according to Ron Abbott, farm program chief for USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Boise.
“Our hearts go out to those Idaho farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an news release last week. “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.”
Nine other counties qualify as contiguous disaster counties: Ada, Blaine, Boise, Camas, Canyon, Cassia, Custer, Minidoka and Oneida, Abbott told the Times-News Friday.
The new counties listed were designated natural disaster areas on April 23, 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. 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.
“We’re also telling Idaho producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood,” Vilsack said.