Qualified farmers in affected and contiguous counties may be eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency emergency loans.
Forty-one Alabama counties have been declared primary natural disaster areas because of drought-triggered losses, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
As of Oct. 3, 11 contiguous counties have also been designated disaster areas. Farmers and ranchers in these contiguous counties likewise qualify for USDA natural disaster assistance.
Alabama’s primary natural disaster areas are Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Coosa, Cullman, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Macon, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Pickens, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston counties.
Contiguous counties are Autauga, Choctaw, Dale, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Henry, Marengo, Montgomery, Perry and Pike.
Qualified farm operators in the above counties are eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency low-interest emergency loans, provided the farmers meet eligibility requirements. Farmers have eight months to apply for loans to help cover part of their losses.
Other FSA programs provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, including 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.
As of Oct. 3’s U.S. Drought Monitor, all of Alabama is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought. The monitor’s highest intensity, exceptional drought, affects 14.84 percent of the state.
For assistance from FSA, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program/index.