In response to a request from Debby Folsom, Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) acting State Executive Director in Florida, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated eight counties in Florida as primary natural disaster areas due to losses and damages caused by a recent drought. Those counties are Hendry, Lee, Nassau, Palm Beach, Indian River, Martin, Orange and St. Lucie.
Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Florida also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are Baker, Collier, Lake, Polk, Brevard, Duval, Okeechobee, Seminole, Broward, Glades, Osceola, Volusia and Charlotte.
Farmers and ranchers in Charlton County in Georgia also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their county is contiguous.
All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on May 16, 2017, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for FSA’s emergency (EM) loans, 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.
Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; the Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the Tree 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.