Farmers and ranchers in 29 California counties are eligible to be considered for emergency loan assistance from the federal Farm Service Agency (FSA) following declaration of a disaster following the severe weather, heavy rains and flooding of Winter 2005 and Spring 2006. The declaration was made by Secretary Mike Johanns of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's emergency declarations earlier this year, as well as his timely communications with President Bush and members of his administration regarding the situation, helped gain the federal declaration.

"Because of Governor Schwarzenegger's leadership, our farmers will now be able to seek federal assistance to help get them through a very difficult year," said California Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura.

The 29 counties designated as "primary natural disaster areas" are:

Alameda

Amador

Butte

Calaveras

Contra Costa

El Dorado

Fresno

Glenn

Humboldt

Kings

Lake

Madera

Mendocino

Merced

Nevada

Plumas

Sacramento

San Joaquin

San Mateo

Shasta

Sierra

Solano

Sonoma

Stanislaus

Sutter

Tehama

Tulare

Yolo

Yuba Farmers in contiguous counties are also eligible for emergency loans under the terms of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act. These counties are:

Alpine

Colusa

Del Norte

Inyo

Kern

Lassen

Marin

Mariposa

Modoc

Mono

Monterey

Napa

Placer

San Benito

San Francisco

San Luis Obispo

Santa Clara

Santa Cruz

Siskiyou Trinity

Tuolumne

Farmers in these counties who experienced weather-related losses due to severe weather between Dec. 17, 2005 and April 26, 2006, are encouraged to work with their local FSA office to apply for assistance.