USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack has designated 13 more Montana counties as primary natural disaster areas due to the drought, and 14 more counties as contiguous disaster areas.
The declaration in mid-September declares Carbon, Carter, Cascade, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Meagher, Musselshell, Park, Powder River, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Treasure and Wheatland as primary disaster areas.
The contiguous counties include Big Horn, Broadwater, Chouteau, Custer, Fallon, Fergus, Gallatin, Lewis and Clark, Petroleum, Rosebud, Teton and Yellowstone.
The North Dakota designation resulted in two Montana counties – Fallon and Wibaux – being declared contiguous areas due to drought.
Each week, new counties are being added to the U. S. Drought Monitor FAST TRACK Secretarial designation process as part of recent changes to the process. Farm and ranch owners in designated areas are eligible to receive 2.25% interest rate loans.
Producers have until May 12, 2013 to apply for the loans.
Montana FSA previously announced several other 2012 secretarial, presidential and administrator natural disaster designations for many counties as well as the Blackfeet and Northern Cheyenne Indian reservations.
Eligible producers have eight from the date of each designation to apply for emergency loans. The maximum amount is $500,000. Emergency loans can be used to restore or replace essential property and pay for production costs associated with a disaster year.
Additionally, they can pay for some family living expenses and refinance some debts, excluding real estate loans.
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has forwarded even more requests for disaster designations to Sec. Vilsack. USDA is conducting local loss assessments of the impacted areas to determine if they are eligible for designation.
Producers interested in applying for the loans should contact their local FSA office to set up appointments with the Farm Loan Program staff serving their particular region. For more information on the loans and designations, go on line and visit the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov/mt.