Nine Georgia counties have been designated as primary disaster areas by the USDA. As a result of the designation, qualified farmers in Appling, Baker, Berrien, Brooks, Coffee, Grady, Jasper, Lee and Newton counties will be eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

“The designation was a result of unusually cool and wet weather last fall that affected the harvest of fall crops and the planting of wheat and small grains in these counties,” explains Jackie McKenzie, a Georgia FSA spokesperson.

Farmers meeting the eligibility requirements for the loans will have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for the 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.

These disaster loans are separate from the Agricultural Assistance Act of 2003, passed in February, says Steve Newton, Georgia FSA state executive director. Disaster designations are initiated by member of county emergency boards made up of representatives of numerous government agencies who determine that weather or a natural disaster has adversely affected agriculture and request a disaster designation, explains Newton.

“These loans are not limited to a specific crop but are open to all producers affected by this type of weather in these counties,” says Newton. “This is the first step in determining how widely dispersed the disaster is and qualifies counties for relief if Congress passes additional relief.

Farmers interested in more information should contact their local FSA office or visit www.disaster.fsa.usda.gov

e-mail: phollis@primediabusiness.com