Drought loans available for area farmers

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 7, 2011

NATCHEZ — Adams County farmers who have experienced losses this year are eligible for disaster loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Emergency loans for farmers, ranchers and operators are available through the Pike County Office of the Farm Service Agency,” David K. Smith, FSA Farm Loan Manager said in a press release.

The loans are to help farmers dealing with problems caused by the drought period that lasted from May 1 to Dec. 31.

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Any farmers who experienced damages or losses due to the drought are eligible for the loan.

Adams County is contiguous to the primary natural disaster area caused by the drought, making the county eligible for Federal Disaster assistance pursuant to the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act.

Representatives from the FSA said farmers have until Oct. 28 to apply for the loans, and that affected farmers need to take advantage of the program.

While there is no FSA office in Adams County, farmers in the county can contact their local farm agents or visit the loan offices in Pike and Lincoln counties for an application.

According to the press release, farmers qualifying for the emergency loans may borrow up to 100 percent of their actual production loss, or the amount needed to restore their operation to its pre-disaster condition.

Farmers will receive aid in whichever amount is less.

The new emergency loan and outstanding principal balance of any existing emergency loan owed by the farmer applying for the loan cannot surpass $500,000.

Emergency loans from the FSA cover the losses from designated disasters and are made to farmers who qualify but cannot receive credit help from other local lenders in the area.

Adams County farmer Ross McGhee said that while his operation was not dramatically affected by the drought, he encourages any farmer who did have problems to apply for the loans.

“While I may have survived, I know some farmers who had quite a few setbacks,” he said. “The emergency loan program is very good. I have used it in the past when I had problems and it helped me out a lot.”

McGhee said even farmers who have to apply for the loans should not be worried because 2011 is shaping up to be a great year in agriculture.

“The prices have never been better,” he said. “Historically we have never had prices as high as they are now.”

Even though things are looking up, McGhee said farming is always controlled by the weather.

“There is always something that can come up and dash your hopes,” he said. “It can be euphoric, but if the market or the weather moves against you, you are caught.”