The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Glenn and Tehama counties in California as primary natural disaster areas due to losses to the 2011 olive crop caused by unseasonably warm weather followed by freezing temperatures that occurred from Nov. 23, 2010, through March 1, 2011.

“Agriculture is the economic engine for many California producers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I want producers to know that disaster assistance is available to them to help provide a boost to the agriculture industry at a time when help is needed most.”

Farmers and ranchers in Butte, Colusa, Lake, Mendocino, Plumas, Shasta and Trinity counties in California also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas June 30, 2011, 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 also has 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 may contact their local USDA Service Centers 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.

FSA news releases are available on FSA’s website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov via the “News and Events” link.