The USDA has designated Kern County in California as a primary natural disaster area due to losses caused by freezing temperatures, excessive rain and high winds that occurred March and April 2012.

"Assistance at this point and time is critically important for producers in California, especially in helping them keep their farmland healthy for the remainder of the year," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "President Obama and I realize that during this time of disaster, federal assistance will be needed until conditions improve and farmers strive to recover from their losses."

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in California also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are:

  • Inyo
  • Kings
  • Los Angeles
  • San Bernardino
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Santa Barbara
  • Tulare
  • Ventura

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas June 19, 2012, 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.