The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 13 Arizona counties as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by drought that occurred from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2009.
The 13 counties include Apache, Greenlee, Pima, Cochise, Maricopa, Pinal, Coconino, Mohave, Santa Cruz, Gila, Navajo, Yavapai, and Graham.
"President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to the area and serious harm to farms in Arizona and we want to help," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This action will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses to warm season grasses."
Farm operators in La Paz and Yuma counties in Arizona also qualify for natural disaster assistance since the counties are contiguous.
Farm operators in the counties listed below in the adjacent states of California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.
• California: San Bernardino
• Colorado: Montezuma
• Nevada: Clark and Lincoln
• New Mexico: Catron, Cibola, Grant, Hidalgo, McKinley, and San Juan
• Utah: Kane, San Juan, and Washington
All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas Dec. 3, 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 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 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 can contact their local USDA Service Center 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.