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Published October 26, 2011, 05:11 PM

USDA issues disaster declaration for 42 ND counties

North Dakota’s Grand Forks County and 41 other North Dakota counties are included in a disaster declaration issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, making farmers in those counties eligible for emergency loan assistance.

By: Chuck Haga, Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald

North Dakota’s Grand Forks County and 41 other North Dakota counties are included in a disaster declaration issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, making farmers in those counties eligible for emergency loan assistance.

Benefits also are available for producers in contiguous counties, which include all 13 other North Dakota counties, and for farmers in a disaster-affected belt of central and southern Minnesota.

Members of North Dakota’s congressional delegation commended the USDA decision in a joint release.

“North Dakota farmers and ranchers were hit hard by this year’s severe weather,” Rep. Rick Berg and Sens. Kent Conrad and John Hoeven say in the statement. “This declaration comes as welcome news and will allow impacted North Dakota producers to get the assistance they need to recover from this year’s significant production and physical losses.”

The USDA’s agriculture disaster declaration covers 11 Minnesota counties: Big Stone, Chippewa, Grant, Lac Qui Parle, Redwood, Renville, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, Traverse and Wright. Farmers in 23 contiguous counties also may qualify for assistance.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton had asked for the disaster declaration, citing the effects of excessive rain, excessive heat, high winds, tornadoes and an early fall frost.

Eligible for assistance

The disaster declaration allows producers to apply for assistance through the Farm Service Agency, including emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program.

Farmers have eight months to apply for emergency loan assistance. Applications for help with 2011 crop losses through the SURE Program will be accepted in 2012, when farm revenue data for this year becomes available.

Eligible producers who suffered losses this year should visit their local Farm Service Agency for additional details, members of the delegation say.

North Dakota counties approved for agriculture disaster relief include Barnes, Benson, Billings, Bottineau, Burke, Cass, Cavalier, Dickey, Divide, Dunn, Eddy, Foster, Golden Valley, Grand Forks, Grant, Griggs, Hettinger, La Moure, McHenry, McIntosh, McLean, Mercer, Mountrail, Nelson, Oliver, Pembina, Pierce, Ramsey, Ransom, Renville, Richland, Rolette, Sargent, Steele, Stutsman, Towner, Traill, Walsh, Ward, Wells and Williams.

The contiguous counties are Adams, Bowman, Burleigh, Emmons, Kidder, Logan, Morton, Sheridan, Sioux, Slope and Stark. Those counties may be considered for agricultural disaster declarations after loss information becomes available in December, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the North Dakota lawmakers.

Richland and Sargent counties had received agriculture disaster designations earlier in October because they are contiguous to several South Dakota counties so designated.

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