County farmers can apply for disaster relief loans

Farmers who suffered damages during last May’s excessive rain are eligible for emergency USDA loans

The Sun-Gazette

WASHINGTON — COVID-19 isn’t the only disaster to affect businesses. While farmers and farmworkers remain working as part of the essential infrastructure of the country, the largest threat to growers remains its old friend and nemesis—weather.

The federal bureaucracy continues to move forward with the business of government, especially those services that affect the supply chain for food. On March 18, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated six California counties, including Tulare County, as primary natural disaster areas for losses due to weather. Producers who suffered crop damage during excessive rains and hail a year ago may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

Producers in Kings, Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Tulare counties who suffered losses due to excessive rain that occurred between May 15 and May 30, 2019, may be eligible for emergency loans. Producers in the contiguous California counties of Alameda, Amador, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Monterey, Placer, San Luis Obispo, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, and Yolo, are also eligible to apply for emergency loans.

Producers in Fresno County who suffered losses due to excessive rain and hail that occurred between May 15 and May 30, 2019, may be eligible for emergency loans. Producers in the contiguous California counties of Inyo, Kings, Madera, Merced, Mono, Monterey, San Benito, and Tulare, are also eligible to apply for emergency loans.

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is Nov. 7, 2020.

This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

FSA has a variety of additional programs to help farmers recover from the impacts of this disaster. FSA programs that do not require a disaster declaration include: Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; and the Tree Assistance Program.

Farmers may contact the Tulare County FSA office located at 3530 W. Orchard St. in Visalia, for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at farmers.gov/recover.

But farmers shouldn’t show up unannounced. USDA is asking anyone applying for disaster relief or wanting to conduct any other businesses to call ahead to FSAs and make an appointment.

“As part of our commitment to farmers and ranchers, USDA Service Centers will continue to be open for business by phone appointment only and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing,” FSA stated on its web site farmers.gov/coronavirus. “While our FSA and NRCS program delivery staff at the Service Centers will continue to come into the office, they will be working with our producers by phone, and using online tools whenever possible.”

Customers may also contact their local service center to make arrangements to complete necessary paperwork by alternative means, such as over the phone, electronically, or by mail. The Tulare County FSA office can be reached by calling 559-734-8732 or emailing Tulare County executive direction Kaye Reyberg at [email protected] or loan manager Chantal Lynn Haun at [email protected].

Additional online services are available to customers with an eAuth account, which provides access to the farmers.gov portal including viewing USDA farm loan information and payments and viewing and tracking certain USDA program applications and payments. Customers who do not already have an eAuth account can enroll at farmers.gov/sign-in.

Rest assured we’re committed to continuing to provide the best service we can, and this includes keeping our customers and employees healthy. Updates on service center operational status can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

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