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Stanislaus County declared a disaster area
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The United States Department of Agriculture declared Stanislaus County a primary natural disaster area because of an ongoing drought. This declaration allows farmers and ranchers to apply for USDA assistance and emergency loans for losses directly related to the drought conditions.
Stanislaus was one of 21 counties named as disaster areas. Farm operators in 29 neighboring California counties also qualify for some natural disaster benefits. The drought declaration covers losses that occurred beginning Jan. 1.
The emergency declaration makes emergency loans available to qualified producers through the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Farmers, ranchers, and producers have to meet a list of criteria in order to qualify for a loan of up to $500,000 dollars. A few of those criteria are citizenship or permanent residency in the United States, a loss of at least 30 percent in crop production or a physical loss, acceptable credit history and an ability to repay loans.
“These are loans and they do have to pay them back, but the FSA does have some programs that are not loans,” said Suzie Wilson with the FSA.
Jonna Spaletta, county executive director for USDA Farm Service Agency in Stanislaus and Tuolomne counties, said that native grass crops were especially hard hit in 2009. A 30 percent loss of crops can be considered an emergency.
The Non-insured Assistance Program covers crops that cannot be privately insured. Producers can obtain coverage on native grass crops through NAP by signing up a year in advance. Spaletta said that farmers in parts of Stanislaus County will soon be receiving payments through NAP to cover part of their losses in 2009.
The Livestock Forage Disaster Program is available to eligible livestock owners during drought years. The program pays on a per acre or per head rate for cattle affected by the loss of grazing crops. The FSA is currently taking sing-ups for the program, which is expected to begin soon.
The Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), and the Emergency Conservation Program are also available through the FSA to farmers and ranchers during drought or disaster years.
The USDA disaster declaration is the latest in a series of declarations that will assist the drought decimated areas of the Central Valley.
On June 19, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order S-11-09 to activate the California Disaster Assistance Act. The order also waived the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance.
This executive order will provide local governments and non-profit agencies with temporary assistance to supply food and other aid to those who are impacted by the drought. This money would go, for example, towards food banks and other organizations that provide temporary assistance to those impacted directly by drought conditions.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.