The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Glenn and Tehama counties in California as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by high temperatures that occurred May 15-31, 2009.

"President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to the area and serious harm to farms in California," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "These designations will provide help to farmers who suffered significant production losses to more than 9,000 acres of olive crops."

Farm operators in Butte, Colusa, Lake, Mendocino, Plumas, Shasta, and Trinity counties in California also qualify for natural disaster benefits because the counties are contiguous.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas Sept. 25, 2009, 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 has also made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which is 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 available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.