USDA Drought Relief Loans Available for Local Farmers

The Recorder, September 30, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Franklin County along with most other parts of Massachusetts primary natural disaster areas due to the ongoing drought conditions and its effect on agriculture.

All qualified farm operators in all counties other than Berkshire are eligible for low-interest emergency loans provided by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

In order to receive a loan from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, farmers must apply within eight months from the date of the declaration, which was on Sept, 21, to mitigate farm operations losses. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture last week opened its emergency loan fund to help Pioneer Valley farmers affected by the drought. The $110,000 fund is available for no-interest loans of $5,000 to $10,000. The application deadline for that program is Oct. 21.

The federal declaration comes on the heels of a separate primary natural disaster area announcement the federal department made for Franklin County due to crop losses, particularly of tree fruits like peaches, caused by frost and freeze occurring between February and May. That designation made farms eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency including emergency loans.

Recently, the state announced the launch of the Massachusetts Drought Emergency Loan Fund, which provides micro-loans to family farms and other small businesses affected by prolonged drought conditions.