The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency today requested 40 Secretarial Disaster Designations for North Carolina’s most devastated counties post Hurricane Matthew.
“Our hearts go out to those North Carolina farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said SED Bob Etheridge. “We are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times.
“We’re also telling North Carolina producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”
Making assessments in the early stages has proven problematic due to the flooding. According to SED Etheridge, “Assessments are difficult due to the diversity of crops and the varying stages of maturity, however, harvest has begun again in some areas.
Currently, 40 counties have made Loss Assessment Reports that indicate at least one crop with losses in excess of 30%. Farmers and ranchers in contiguous counties qualify for natural disaster assistance as well.
The State Executive Director has been touring the disaster affected area for the past week. FSA Administrator, Val Dolcini accompanied him one day, as well as, Congressional representatives, District Directors and other FSA personnel on other days.
“I have seen the washed out fields, the deep gullies and the anguish on the faces of North Carolina’s farm families,” stated SED Etheridge. “They need our help and we intend to be of aid.”
All counties designated natural disaster after this request that are qualified farm operators in the designated areas are 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.
N.C. USDA FSA recently convened two Emergency Preparedness meetings involving, FSA, NRCS, RD, RMA, NCDA, FEMA, EPA and Emergency Management. SED Etheridge also met with State Farm Bureau and various commodity group leadership to discuss FSA assistance and provide information on current programs.