Pa. earns disaster status except for Erie, Greene counties

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WASHINGTON – The USDA named parts of Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania as agricultural disaster areas, in addition to previous declarations of disaster status for all of Delaware and Ohio.

Pa. eligibility. All counties in Pennsylvania are also eligible for emergency assistance except for Erie and Greene counties.

Contiguous disaster areas include the counties of Clarion, Crawford, Delaware, Fayette, Jefferson, Mercer, Philadelphia, Tioga, Warren, Washington and Westmoreland.

The remaining 54 Pennsylvania counties have received primary disaster designations and are eligible for LCP.

Ongoing drought. Most of Pennsylvania has been under a drought warning or drought emergency since early in 2002. This was caused by lack of adequate rainfall over the previous 12 months. For many producers, this is the second severe drought in four years.

Pa. Agriculture Secretary Sam Hayes estimates that Pennsylvania agriculture has suffered an average of 46 percent crop loss statewide.

Programs available. These designations make all qualified farm operators eligible for low-interest loans from the Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for the loans to help cover part of their actual losses.

FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs available, in addition to the emergency loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Earlier this year, U.S. Ag Secretary Ann Veneman also announced the authorization of emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program acres in an effort to provide drought relief in states that were particularly affected by drought over the past year.

Interested farmers may contact their local FSA Service Centers for further information.

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