Agricultural relief deadline nearing

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Crop and livestock producers who wish to apply for emergency loans or disaster payments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of production difficulties in the 2000 seasons need to fill out the necessary applications soon, as deadlines are quickly approaching.

The Farm Services Agency (FSA) is offering emergency loans to qualified farmers and ranchers in counties declared disaster areas by President Bush, or designated by the Secretary of Agriculture. Emergency loan applications are due by end of business on April 30.

"These are low interest loans for producers that saw at least a 30 percent drop in production," said Farm Loan Manager, Laurie Neilson.

According to Neilson, that 30 percent loss must be either a qualifying physical loss, or a production loss of any essential farm or ranch enterprise. That loss is determined by comparing the yields over the last 5 years, while throwing out the lowest year, and comparing 2000's yield to the remaining 4 years.

The loan limit is 80 percent of production losses, or 100 percent of physical losses. Maximum indebtedness is $500,000.

"The producer has to show they are unable to get credit elsewhere, and be able to secure at least 100 percent of the loan. We will take 150 percent security if possible," Neilson said. If a person requesting a loan has non-essential assets over $5,000 that they can't or won't liquidate, the value of the asset will be subtracted from the total loaned.

Likewise, any disaster payments the applicant has received for 2000 will also be subtracted from the total amount allowable, Neilson said.

Also, the Moffat County FSA is now offering two disaster payment programs.

The first program is a crop disaster program, designed to compensate for annual hay and crop losses in 2000.

"To be eligible, a crop producer must have had a 35 percent loss when compared to county average yields," County Executive Director Pat Morales said. "There is no deadline as of yet for this program."

The second program is a Livestock Assistance Program, which has a filing deadline of end of business on Friday, April 27, 2001.

"Eligibility for assistance is based on grazing losses," Morales said. "There must be a loss of at least 40 percent, compared to what a producer is normally able to graze based on acreage, number of livestock they were able to put out and the amount of grazing time."

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