The head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has officially declared 44 Arkansas counties as “primary natural disaster areas.” Following extensive severe weather episodes earlier this year, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a Secretarial disaster declaration on August 14 for more than half of Arkansas’ counties.
The disaster declaration will enable farmers in the primary and contiguous disaster areas to apply for certain assistance measures from the Farm Service Agency. Under a disaster designation, farmers and producers can apply for low-interest emergency loans.
To be eligible for the emergency loans, applicants must apply within eight months of the date of the disaster declaration (Aug. 14), meet the “agency agency definition of an established farmer, be citizens or permanent residents of the United States, and have suffered at least a 30-percent loss in crop production; and/or sustained a physical loss to livestock, livestock products, real estate, or chattel property,” and must have acceptable cred it history and have collateral for the loan and the ability to repay the loan.
According to the USDA, Secretarial disaster declaration, which must be requested from the Secretary of Agriculture from a state’s governor or an authorized representative, are the most common of four types of disaster declarations.
On June 24, Hutchinson sent Perdue an official letter, requesting assistance for 47 counties (all of the primary counties plus Benton, Bradley and Calhoun counties). In addition, he expressed support for the Arkansas Farm Service Agency’s request for a disaster declaration.
“As Governor, I take pride in our state’s agricultural success, and I will continue to provide any assistance I can those those farmers who help our economy flourish,” he wrote. “In efforts to further support the Arkansas farmers who are experiencing oppression from the flooding, I am asking that the following counties below be declared a disaster, in terms of crop loss, in order to ensure support for these farmers.”
Benton, Bradley and Calhoun were not granted primary disaster area designation because the USDA was “unable to make a complete and accurate determination of production losses…,” according to Perdue’s letter.
The primary counties that have been declared disaster designation areas include:
- Hot Spring
- Little River
The contiguous Arkansas counties affected by the flooding include:
- Van Buren
In addition, counties in six nearby states were declared contiguous areas in the disaster declaration. Louisiana had the highest number of contiguous areas at seven, followed by Mississippi with six. Missouri had the third highest number of contiguous areas with five counties affected, while Oklahoma and Tennessee both had four counties affected and Texas had two counties declared contiguous areas.