DISASTER DECLARATION OFFERS FARMERS LOW-COST LOANS
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama farmers can begin applying Monday for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency, thanks to a Christmas Eve disaster declaration by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The declaration, which came after unusually heavy rains during the peak of the harvest season damaged or destroyed many crops, had been requested earlier this month by Gov. Bob Riley and U.S. Sen. Bobby Bright after urging from the Alabama Farmers Federation.
Farmers may also be eligible for help from the Supplemental Reserve Assistance Payments program, but those payments would not arrive until 2011 -- far too late for the 2010 planting season.
State leaders had hoped the USDA would answer their request for "urgent assistance" with emergency grants. Many farmers say the last thing they need during a disastrous crop year is to take on more debt.
"It's important that Alabama farmers -- particularly those in the greatest need -- receive some assistance as quickly as possible," Buddy Adamson, director of the Federation's Wheat & Feed Grains and Cotton Division, said almost three weeks before the USDA's Christmas Eve declaration.
A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives seeking emergency grants failed to be considered for a vote before the holiday recess. Congress won't reconvene until Jan. 12.