Farmers and ranchers in Summit County are eligible for assistance after the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated Summit County as a natural disaster area due to the ongoing drought.

Duchesne, Salt Lake, Utah and Wasatch counties have also been deemed disaster areas by the USDA. All were designated on July 16, said Clif Rasmussen, farm loan officer for the USDA's Farm Service Agency.

"Our hearts go out to those Utah farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a press release. "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 Utah producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood."

All qualified farm operators in Summit County are eligible for low interest emergency loans from the FSA, provided eligibility requirements are met, according to Rasmussen. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from July 16 to apply for loans to help cover portions of their losses.

The release states that "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.


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The release continues: "Additional programs available to assist farmers and ranchers include the Emergency Conservation Program, The Livestock Forage Disaster Program , the Livestock Indemnity Program , the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program , and the Tree Assistance Program ."

Farmers and ranchers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Summit County's service center office is located at 30 Main St. in Coalville, and can be contacted by calling 435-336-5573. Rasmussen can be contacted at the same number or can be emailed at clifton.rasmussen@ut.usda.gov .

Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov .

-- David Burger