Suffering farmers eligible for low-interest emergency loans

Fields around Moffat County are covered with snow, the tractors are in the barns, and farmers who worked hard all summer are trying to figure out how to make up for losses suffered after a tough year.

The Farm Service Agency might be the answer and farmers may still be able to get some assistance.

Agricultural producers in Moffat County who suffered substantial crop losses due to early freeze and drought conditions in 2000 may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency.

Applications for these loans will be accepted until April 30.

Laurie Neilson, farm loan manager for the Farm Service Agency, said that the Agency has received several calls asking about the loans from Moffat County cattle and wheat producers. Most are waiting to see if the livestock assistance program will come through before they apply for the loans.

Pat Moralez, county executive director for the Farm Service Agency, said there is an new emergency livestock assistance program being created in Washington, D.C., and she isn't sure what to expect as far as the assistance for livestock.

"If it is like the old program it will help producers with the cost of feed, but we're not sure how yet," Moralez said.

Moralez wasn't sure when the new guidelines will be handed down from Washington, but she did say that she would release the information as soon as she has it.

If producers decide to go with an emergency low-interest loan, Neilson said they have to show they can't receive credit anywhere else.

The amount of the loan is figured by taking the producer's last five years of production, taking the best four and comparing it with last year's production. Anything 30 percent or more in production loss qualifies. The amount of the loan is decided by taking 80 percent of the difference between last year's production and the average of the last four best years.

Neilson said the program is beneficial to some types of producers, but for others it is difficult to qualify.

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