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The Daily



08-05-03: Local farmers may get loans for flood damage

The Daily Standard
    For many farmers and other local residents, the past weekend was deja vu as torrential rains fell causing flooding similar to the Independence Day flood.
    But help is on the way for farmers whose crops have washed away or been decimated in fields that now resemble small streams.
    Thanks to the major disaster declaration by President George W. Bush on July 15, federal funds are available for farmers who meet the requirements.
    Both Mercer and Auglaize county farmers can apply for Emergency (EM) loan assistance for physical and production losses if they have been denied disaster relief by other lenders.
    "The EM loan is a 1 to 20-year loan at 3.75 percent for farmers who can't get help elsewhere," said Farm Loan Manager Marla Koerner of the Mercer County Farm Service Agency.
    The EM loan is available via application through March 15, 2004, for farmers who incurred losses caused by severe storms and flooding from July 4 and continuing. Koerner said the loan covers loss of production and any loss of livestock or buildings.
    Six Ohio counties were declared primary counties for the EM loan: Mercer, Auglaize, Darke, Logan, Shelby and Van Wert.
    The Auglaize County Farm Service Agency has been approved for the 2003 Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) for flood damage incurred in July. The ECP was established to rehabilitate farmlands and conservation facilities damaged by wind, water, erosion, floods and other natural disasters.
    Mercer County Farm Service officials currently are investigating whether or not to seek the ECP aid through the USDA. Only one application has been received locally so far, according to Joan Rutschilling, program technician in Mercer County.
    The ECP is not a loan; it is a direct payment for land restoration, according to Auglaize County FSA Executive Director Anita Green. The monies can be used for removal of debris, grading, shaping, releveling severely damaged farmland, restoring permanent fences and conservation structures, sod waterways, installing open or closed drainage systems and other similar installations.
    The sign-up period for the ECP began Monday and will continue through Sept. 30.
    Green encourages farmers to survey their cropland now, if they can, to see what type of damage or crop losses they may be facing at harvest time. Some crops that are faring well may not be reachable due to submerged fields in their path.
    Green said farmers are really feeling the pain this year following last year's drought.
    "Generally, when there's a bad year you can spring back up, but these back-to-back disasters make that especially tough," she said.
    Green said farmers are fortunate to have the funds and loans available because local lenders may be somewhat hesitant to issue loans under the circumstances.
    "And it's a long way to go until harvest. Anything could happen between now and then," Green said. "Mother Nature has the upper hand here."
    Anyone who is interested in more information or who wants to apply for the federal programs should contact their county farm service agency.
    In Mercer County, call 419-586-3149, or visit the office at 220 W. Livingston St., Suite 2, Celina.
    In Auglaize County, call 419-738-3918, or visit the office at 110 Industrial Drive, Suite E, Wapa-koneta.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822