Drought assistance available to farmers

CHARLESTON — The United States Department of Agriculture is making funding available to Hancock County farmers who may have been impacted by a drought last year in Pennsylvania.

The USDA has designated Hancock County as a “contiguous disaster area” due to a drought that occurred in 14 counties in Pennsylvania between May and December 2016. The designation was made because Hancock County shares a border with counties that were part of the primary disaster area due to the drought.

As a result, Farm Service Agency emergency production loss assistance is available for farmers in Hancock County who suffered qualifying losses under the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act.

“It’s important Hancock County farmers impacted by last year’s drought seek assistance from the USDA in a timely manner. These monies will not be available forever, so we encourage those who were affected to take advantage of this assistance,” West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt said in a press release.

Farmers who meet the eligibility requirements have eight months from the date of declaration on April 5 to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. The Farm Service Agency will consider each loan application on its own merit, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. The agency has a variety of programs to assist eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Interested farmers may contact their local USDA service centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these programs. Additional information is available online at disaster.fsa.usda.gov.