USDA declares Freeborn County as disaster area

Published 1:53 pm Friday, July 12, 2013

Farmers eligible for low-interest loans

Qualified Freeborn County farmers who suffered damages or losses because of weather-related conditions earlier this year are now eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA this week designated 20 counties in Minnesota — including Freeborn, Faribault, Mower and Steele counties — as primary natural disaster areas because of the combined effects of heavy rainfall followed by freezing temperatures and multiple periods of thawing and refreezing from Jan. 1 through May 15.

“Our hearts go out to those Minnesota farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities through these difficult times.”

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Farmers in Worth and Winnebago counties in Iowa also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

The assistance will come from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency provided eligibility requirements are met.

The farmers in eligible counties have eight months from July 10 to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. The Farm Service Agency will take into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

Additional programs to assist farmers and ranchers are the Emergency Conservation Program, Federal Crop Insurance and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

“I am happy to see the Department of Agriculture stepping up for our communities,” said District 27 Sen. Dan Sparks. “This will be very beneficial to many Minnesota families.”

He said as the chairman of the Agriculture Committee in the Senate, he has heard from many farming families that were hit hard by the tough conditions.

“It was a long and difficult winter and spring for Minnesota farmers.”

Farmers can contact their local USDA service centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures. Or people can go online to

Freeborn County is also seeking a presidential disaster declaration for damages sustained to public infrastructure from storms and flooding June 20-26.