“President Obama and I understand these conditions have caused severe damage to the area and serious harm to farms in Wyoming and we want to help,” Vilsack said in a release. He intends the disaster declaration to help hundreds of …
Big Horn Basin farmers begin applying for emergency loansFarmers in Park and Big Horn counties who lost crops to an early October freeze can begin applying for emergency federal disaster loans after the USDA declared those counties primary natural disaster areas.Tom Vilsack, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on Monday issued an official disaster declaration because of a severe freeze between Oct. 6 and Oct. 13. Big Horn Basin growers lost sugar beets, dry beans, alfalfa and possibly other crops during the storm, when temperatures dipped below zero and snow blanketed Heart Mountain fields.
“President Obama and I understand these conditions have caused severe damage to the area and serious harm to farms in Wyoming and we want to help,” Vilsack said in a release. He intends the disaster declaration to help hundreds of farmers and ranchers who lost crops such as sugar beets, dry beans, alfalfa, corn or wheat.
Growers may apply for emergency loans through local USDA Farm Service Agency offices for eight months.
The disaster declaration also encompasses adjacent counties: Hot Springs, Washakie, Fremont, Johnson, Sheridan and Teton and the Montana counties of Big Horn, Carbon, Park and Gallatin.
On Tuesday, Lee Craig said the staff in the Powell Farm Service Agency office was working through the loan requirements and had already heard from growers interested in the loan programs.
Craig, the county executive director of the agency in Powell, said growers will have to meet a number of requirements to qualify for the loan programs. Among those requirements is proving that a grower cannot obtain commercial credit because of losses caused by the specific disaster, he said. Poor farming practices will not qualify a grower for an FSA loan, he said.
Growers must also have crop insurance for the affected crops, he said.
The office staff is brushing up on the regulations, Craig said.
“We haven't had this in our area for a long time, thankfully,” he said.
Sugar beets probably suffered the most frost damage, Craig said, but alfalfa seed growers and those with damaged dry beans may also qualify for emergency loans.
According to a USDA Farm Service Agency fact sheet, farmers who suffered at least 30-percent losses may qualify for loans to cover operating and real estate costs, to pay for essential family living expenses or production costs for the disaster year or to reorganize or refinance certain debts. They can apply for up to $500,000 in loans.
Craig said one problem is that as the first sugar beet payment comes in, it will likely be much less than a grower anticipated because the crop was less than projected.
“People may have spent that money already” to prepare for next year, buying fertilizer, seed or other necessities, Craig said.
Growers have several months to apply for the loans in part because they may not know what expenses they have to cover yet, Craig said.
“These are the kinds of conditions that don't show themselves right away,” he said.
Other USDA programs, such as the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), may be available to local growers. Information is available from local Farm Service Agency offices or at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.
The Western Sugar Cooperative sugar beet harvest in the Lovell district ended Dec. 4 as another enduring cold snap began with approximately 30 percent of the harvest still in the ground.