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Published March 28, 2012, 12:00 AM

USDA designates seven counties in Minnesota as natural disaster areas

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated seven counties in Minnesota as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by the combined effects of excessive rain, excessive heat, high winds, tornadoes and an early fall frost that occurred during the period of April 1, 2011 through September 15, 2011.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated seven counties in Minnesota as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by the combined effects of excessive rain, excessive heat, high winds, tornadoes and an early fall frost that occurred during the period of April 1, 2011 through September 15, 2011.

Those counties are Clay, Meeker, Pope, Yellow Medicine, Le Sueur, Norman and Waseca.

“Minnesota has experienced multiple disaster conditions this year,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are pleased to announce that Minnesota producers will soon see some very much needed federal disaster assistance for its agricultural industry.”

Farmers and ranchers in the following Minnesota counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

Those counties are Becker, Blue Earth, Chippewa, Douglas, Faribault, Freeborn, Grant, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, McLeod, Nicollet, Otter Tail, Polk, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Scott, Sibley, Stearns, Steele, Stevens, Swift, Wilkin and Wright.

Farmers and ranchers in Cass, Richland and Trail counties in North Dakota, and Deuel County in South Dakota also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas December 13, 2011, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas 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.

USDA also has made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs.

Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

Secretary Vilsack also reminds producers that the department’s authority to operate the five disaster assistance programs authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill expired September 30, 2011. This includes SURE; the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP); the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP); and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).

Production losses in the counties listed above are covered because the event triggering the loss occurred prior to the expiration of these programs; however, production losses due to disasters occurring after September 30, 2011, are not eligible for disaster program coverage.

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