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Drought Prompts Federal Assistance for Farmers and Ranchers in King, Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Mason, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania counties

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Drought Prompts Federal Assistance for Farmers and Ranchers in King, Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Mason, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific and Skamania counties

Ranchers in King, Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Mason, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific and Skamania counties may be eligible for financial drought relief from the federal government after the U.S. Drought Monitor reached D3, or a severe drought, for eight consecutive weeks.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency will make Livestock Forage Program payments to eligible ranchers in the above named counties after severe drought coincided with the normal grazing season. One monthly payment can be as high as $40.79 for an adult cow," explained County Executive Director Martha Dorsey. "This is in addition to the emergency loans we have available for agricultural producers in this and adjacent counties because of a Disaster Designation due to drought."

For drought, LFP payments are equal to 60 percent of the monthly feed cost. Program payments help offset higher costs of purchasing feed or forage. Currently, ranchers in the above named counties are eligible for three months of financial assistance. "This could increase if the drought continues," said Dorsey. Applications are due to the Farm Service Agency by January 31, 2016.

Emergency loans are also available in these and contiguous counties. The loans are low interest, currently 3.625% percent, with payment terms of up to 40 years. They may be used to restore or replace essential property, pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize a farming operation or refinance certain debts.

Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the designation to apply for emergency loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the Emergency Loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Additional programs that may be available to assist farmers and ranchers include the Emergency Conservation Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency office for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

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