WASHINGTON, DC–The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Columbia and three other counties in the state as natural disaster areas due to losses caused by a drought that began June 13, 2010 and continues.
Columbia is also among 19 counties around the state designated by the USDA last week as natural disaster areas due to losses caused by frost, freezing, high winds, hail, excessive snow, excessive rain and cold temperatures that occurred from February 15 to May 12, 2010.
“President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to a wide variety of crops including fruit and vegetable crops, and we want to help,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a December 20 press release announcing the drought declaration. “This action will provide help to farmers who suffered significant production losses,” said the secretary. He visited the region earlier this year during the campaign season at the request of Congressman Scott Murphy.
The counties are named in the drought declaration are, in addition to Columbia: Dutchess, Greene and Rensselaer.
Farmers in eight other counties in New York qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. They include Albany and Ulster counties. Also eligible are farmers in Fairfield and Litchfield counties in Connecticut, Berkshire County, MA, and Bennington County, VT.
All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas December 17, 2010, 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.
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.
Hail, wind, snow
The 19 counties in New York designated as natural disaster areas due to losses caused by frost, freezing, high winds, hail, excessive snow, excessive rain and cold temperatures from mid-February to mid-May include many of the same counties affected by drought. The list also includes some counties in the central, western and northern parts of the state
Contiguous states that suffered from the same conditions include Pennsylvania.
The declaration on the weather damage was also issued December 17, 2010, and makes all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for some of the same types of types low interest emergency (EM) loans listed above.