USDA designates seven Washington counties as primary natural disaster areas 

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has designated seven Washington counties as a primary natural disaster area. Producers in Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan and Yakima counties who suffered losses due to recent drought may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

Producers in the contiguous Washington counties of Adams, Benton, Ferry, Franklin, King, Lewis, Lincoln, Pierce, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish and Whatcom, as well as Gilliam, Hood River, Morrow, Sherman and Wasco counties in Oregon, are also eligible to apply for emergency loans.

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is Feb. 11, 2021. FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

Emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program land can sometimes be approved during periods of significant drought. The farm bill provides that when a county reaches D2 on the U.S. Drought Monitor, the FSA state committee can authorize emergency haying or grazing once the primary nesting season ends on July 1. FSA is monitoring the situation and will announce if any counties will be approved for emergency haying or grazing.

Counties that currently have at least a portion of the county at D2 on the drought monitor are Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, Walla Walla and Yakima.

If haying and grazing are approved, producers will need to submit an application to FSA and work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to obtain a conservation plan that complies with farm bill provisions for emergency haying or grazing. Haying or grazing cannot begin until the producer is approved by FSA.

FSA has a variety of additional programs to help farmers recover from the impacts of this disaster. FSA programs that do not require a disaster declaration include: Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish ProgramEmergency Conservation ProgramLivestock Forage Disaster ProgramLivestock Indemnity ProgramOperating and Farm Ownership Loans; and the Tree Assistance Program.

Farmers may contact their local USDA service center for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at farmers.gov/recover.