Even if your county wasn't on the original list of counties approved for disaster assistance, it may be soon. Or it may be already. It's almost a situation that changes day by day, says Julia Wickard, state director of the Farm Service Agency.
Her advice is to stay in touch with your local FSA office. They are the ones that will have up-to-date information on the status in your county. Remember that counties that lie contiguous, or in other words, join boundaries, to a county declared a disaster is also one where producers are eligible for the same benefits under the disaster declaration.
Right now that boils down to the low-0interest loan program, Wickard says. It's really the only thing that FSA has to offer that could help producers caught in the teeth of this wicked drought that unfolded this summer.
The interest rate was lowered by the US secretary of Agriculture form 3.75% to 2.25%. However, you must still meet eligibility requirements before you can get an FSA low-interest disaster loan, Wickard notes. Basically, you must prove that you can't get credit from a conventional bank or lending institution to qualify for the loan.
In case there are more tools added to the FSA toolbox down the road, such as a disaster payment program, Wickard urges that producers keep careful records. Livestock producers will want to know when they fed hay and how much they fed. She recommends keeping kind of a running journal or log. If some program is announced later on, and there is no guarantee whether it will be or not, but if it is, based on past programs that would be similar in nature, the more records you have and the more information you ah vein writing, the easier it will be to help you qualify for whatever benefits are offered, she concludes.