Indiana farmers eligible for spring flooding aid

Truth file photo Indiana farmers had a tough spring, as the rain made it difficult to get in the fields during planting season. Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Friday that farmers across the state are eligible to apply for assistance to recover. 

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric J. Holcomb announced Friday that Indiana farmers are eligible for assistance under a secretarial natural disaster designation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as a result of excessive rain and flooding during planting season.

Holcomb in July wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue requesting assistance.

“I am grateful that Secretary Perdue and his team recognized the hardships Hoosier farmers experienced this planting season,” Holcomb said. “As a result of this designation, farmers in all 92 counties are now eligible for assistance, and I encourage those impacted to work with their local Farm Service Agency office.”

Seventy-four counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas. USDA deferred its decision on the remaining 18 counties. However, since they border one or more of the primary disaster areas, they are considered contiguous disaster counties – allowing farm operators in those areas to be eligible for the same assistance.

Elkhart County is among the primary natural disaster areas.

Under a secretarial natural disaster designation, farm operators in primary and contiguous counties are eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency, provided certain requirements are met. This includes access to low-interest FSA emergency loans, which may be used to restore or replace essential property, pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize the farming operation, and refinance certain debts.

In order to qualify, farm operators must show at least a 30 percent loss in crop production or a physical loss to livestock, livestock products, real estate or chattel property. Farmers can borrow up to 100 percent of actual production or physical losses to a maximum amount of $500,000, according to USDA.

“This has been an unprecedented year for Indiana farmers,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s secretary of agriculture and rural development. “I applaud Governor Holcomb, the Indiana Farm Service Agency and our state department of agriculture for making this assistance available.”

In addition to emergency loans, farmers with existing FSA loans, who are unable to make their payments, may be eligible to have certain payments deferred. Farmers are encouraged to work with their local FSA office for assistance regarding payment forbearance or emergency disaster loans.

“Farmers, who have been doing this their entire lives, acknowledge this has been one of the toughest seasons on record, and we’re not in the clear yet,” said Bruce Kettler, Indiana State Department of Agriculture director. “While we know this isn’t a cure-all solution, this assistance is welcome news and will help those severely impacted.”

For a list of Farm Service Agency offices in Indiana, visit www.fsa.usda.gov. The deadline to apply for emergency loans is April 29.

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