Arkansas seeks federal disaster aid for 10 counties

WASHINGTON — Arkansas is seeking federal help for farmers and ranchers in 10 eastern counties where severe storms caused significant damage to crops and pastures last week.

The Arkansas congressional delegation on Tuesday joined Gov. Mike Beebe in asking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for a disaster designation that would allow the Farm Service Agency to make emergency loans available to eligible farmers.

Beebe was scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon with Brinkley Mayor Billy Hankins and survey flood damage from the torrential rains that fell last week in the community.

Beebe sent a letter Thursday to Vilsack seeking a “Secretarial Disaster Designation” for Cross, Independence, Jackson, Lee, Lonoke, Monroe, Prairie, St. Francis, White and Woodruff counties.

Beebe stated in the letter that farmers and ranchers in the counties had experienced significant damage and losses to crops and pastures from storms that began June 29. A second letter to Vilsack was sent Tuesday from Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.; and Reps. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Steve Womack, R-Rogers.

“For many agriculture producers in Arkansas, this will provide the essential lifeline to meet financial obligations. Emergency loans are vital to farmers and ranchers who may have no other source of revenue over the next year,” the delegation wrote.