Tazewell, VA -- Help, in the form of emergency farm assistance, may be available for family farmers who suffered losses from the double-barreled onslaught of severe storms and flooding which soaked southwest Virginia in mid and late July. The storms resulted in an initial presidential disaster declaration for Tazewell County on July 12, later amended to include six additional counties on August 1.
Family farmers in seven federally declared counties and five contiguous counties in Virginia may be eligible for assistance under the Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loan program. The emergency loan program provides assistance to family farmers who suffered disaster-related damage, or a loss related to their farming operations, and is intended to return the farm operation to a productive basis as soon as possible.
The eligible Virginia counties for the FSA program include Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, and Wise counties as well as the neighboring state counties of Bland, Grayson, Lee, Washington and Wythe. In addition, Tennessee family farmers in Johnson and Sullivan Counties, and West Virginia family farmers in Harlan, Letcher, and Pike Counties may be eligible for the FSA program since those counties share contiguous borders with the eligible Virginia counties.
Applicant requirements for the emergency loans include:
- Loans are for established family farmers who were farming at the time the disaster occurred and who have suffered a qualifying physical or production loss of at least 30% in any essential farm or ranch enterprise;
- Verification through a conventional farm lender that commercial credit cannot be obtained elsewhere;
- Collateral must be provided to secure the emergency loan and the applicant must have repayment ability;
- The program is available only to citizens or permanent residents of the United States.
Farmers can find out if they are eligible for farm loans by calling their local FSA office. Emergency family farm loan applications must be received by March 12, 2002, for physical and production losses.
Additional state and federal disaster assistance such as disaster housing assistance, individual and family grants and U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest loans also may be available for farmers and other victims in the seven declared counties. To apply call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) toll-free registration number 1-800-462-9029. For the speech or hearing impaired the TTY number is 1-800-462-7585.