The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Dec. 23 designated 12 counties in California as primary natural disaster areas, tied to damages and losses caused by a drought from Jan. 2, 2015 to the present.
The counties include Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Marin, San Benito, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Trinity, Tulare, and Ventura.
Farmers and ranchers in the California counties listed below also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. These counties include Alameda, Humboldt, Inyo, Merced, Mono, Monterey, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Shasta
Qualified farm operators in these designated areas are 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.
Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include the Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program;Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the Tree Assistance Program.
Interested farmers can contact their local USDA Service Center for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs.