OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Disaster assistance is available to Oklahoma farmers and ranchers who have suffered losses as a result of the May 3-5 tornadoes, severe storms and flooding, according to federal and state officials. This includes funding for debris removal, fence rebuilding and conservation structure repairs.
Sixteen counties, and 31 contiguous counties are eligible for individual assistance to farmers and ranchers. The designations open the way for a wide range of federal and state disaster assistance. The declared counties include: Caddo, Canadian, Cleveland, Craig, Creek, Grady, Kingfisher, LeFlore, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Noble, Oklahoma, Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Tulsa. Farmers and ranchers in these counties, and also in the 31 neighboring counties, may be eligible for assistance.
"In addition to the basic disaster assistance programs available to eligible individuals affected by the storms, there are a number of programs specifically for farmers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the Farm Service Agency," Robert E. Hendrix, Federal Coordinating Officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said.
The Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture is encouraging producers to call their special Tornado Recovery Hotline at 800-580-6543. "Our hotline team has already been in contact with many farmers and ranchers discussing their needs and cost estimates for cleanup, fence repair, livestock, equipment replacement and reconstructing their homes," said Dr. Charles Freeman, Deputy State Agriculture Commissioner.
Farm Service Agency
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) provides emergency funding to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. The ECP provides funds to replace fences damaged or destroyed and to remove debris from farmland. Cost share levels up to 64 percent are set by County Committees. Eligibility for ECP assistance is determined by County Committees. The individual on-site inspections take into account the type and extent of damage.
- Emergency loans are available to help qualified family farm operators cover production and physical losses in the designated counties. Emergency loans for crop, livestock and non-real estate losses including machinery and buildings are normally repaid in one to seven years, but in special circumstances, up to 20 years. Loans for physical losses are normally repaid in 30 years, but 40 years may be allowed in special circumstances. Local FSA offices have a list of application due dates for each county.
- The Disaster Set-Aside program allows FSA borrowers who are current or not more than one installment behind on any Farm Loan Program to move one scheduled annual installment in each eligible loan to the end of the loan term. The intent of the program is to relieve some of the borrower's immediate financial distress and avoid foreclosure. Borrowers need to contact their local FSA office to determine if they are eligible.
Rural residents in the affected counties should contact their local FSA office, listed in the yellow pages under United States Department of Agriculture-Farm Service Agency.
USDA's Rural Development Housing Program has funds available to assist individuals in rural areas according to Charles Rainbolt, Oklahoma State Director for Rural Development. Assistance available through this USDA program includes:
- Grants of up to $7,500 for very low-income senior citizens (62 and older).
- Loans at 1 percent interest repayable up to 20 years with a maximum of $20,000 for very low- income families.
- Direct loans for low and very-low income fam...