As the weeks roll by, once again the crop year of 2012 seems to be one that will go down in history as a drought year as the current weather pattern is playing havoc with your growing crops.
Most of the farmers I have visited with recently are experiencing drought like conditions as rainfall is well below normal levels so far this year.
We understand that this can be a very stressful time for you as you watch the weather forecasts for that much needed rainfall. Due to these troubling conditions, the USDA Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, recently announced a package of program improvements that will deliver faster and more flexible assistance to farmers and ranchers devastated by natural disasters.
Vilsack announced three significant improvements to decades-old USDA programs and processes related to Secretarial disaster designations: a final rule that simplifies the process for secretarial disaster designations and will result in a 40 percent reduction in processing time for most counties affected by disasters; a reduced interest rate for emergency loans that effectively lowers the current rate from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent; and a payment reduction on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands qualified for emergency haying and grazing in 2012, from 25 to 10 percent.
A natural disaster designation makes all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency loans.
The Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to designate disaster counties to make disaster assistance programs available to farmers and ranchers. Previous to these changes, the process had been in place for more than two decades and regulations had not been substantively revised since 1988.
USDA encourages all farmers and ranchers to contact their crop insurance companies and local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Centers, as applicable, to report damages to crops or livestock loss. In addition, USDA reminds livestock producers to keep thorough records of losses, including additional expenses for such things as food purchased due to lost supplies.
More information about federal crop insurance may be found at www.rma.usda.gov. Additional resources to help farmers and ranchers deal with crop disaster conditions may be found at www.usda.gov/disaster.
That’s all for now,