USDA designates local counties as a primary natural disaster area

BALDWIN — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated St. Croix County in Wisconsin as a primary natural disaster area due to extremely hot weather and severe drought conditions that occurred in 2013.

“Our hearts go out to those Wisconsin farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Wisconsin producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

Farmers and ranchers in the following contiguous counties in Wisconsin also qualify for natural disaster assistance. Those counties are: Barron, Dunn, Pierce and Polk.

Farmers and ranchers in Washington County in Minnesota also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their county is contiguous.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on March 5, 2014, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for 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, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Additional programs available to assist farmers and ranchers include the Emergency Conservation Program, Federal Crop Insurance, and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact the St. Croix County FSA office in Baldwin at 715-684-2874 x2 for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov