Lassen County in northeast California has been designated a natural disaster area by USDA due to losses caused by drought that began Jan. 1, 2010 and continues.

“President Obama and I understand these conditions caused damage to pasture and forage crops, and we want to help” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This action will provide help to farmers who suffered significant production losses.”

Farmers and ranchers in neighboring Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, and Sierra counties in California also qualify for natural disaster assistance, along with producers in neighboring Washoe County in Nevada.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas Dec. 27, 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.

For more information, visit http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.