USDA designates 23 counties as disaster areas


WASHINGTON — Farmers and ranchers in 23 eastern Arkansas counties ravaged by June floods will be eligible to receive disaster assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Jefferson County has been named a contiguous disaster county.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 23 Arkansas counties as disaster areas at the request of Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, according to a press release issued by the state’s congressional delegation on Wednesday.

The severe weather conditions in Arkansas last month brought flash flooding, hail and other destructive forces of nature to bear on agriculture producers in the designated counties. Those farmers can apply for emergency loans through the FSA to help recover losses, according to the delegation.

“Heavy rains and high water have hurt a wide range of crops grown in the 1st District, creating significant producer losses with few options to salvage the fall harvest,” said Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro. “While a Secretarial Disaster Declaration does not solve the ongoing flooding dilemma facing our producers, it does provide emergency loan assistance to lessen uncertainty and get our growers back in their fields next year.”

Under this designation, agricultural producers in Cross, Jackson, Independence, Lee, Lonoke, Monroe, Prairie, St. Francis, White and Woodruff counties will be eligible to apply for assistance from the Farm Service Agency, including emergency loans. In addition to Jefferson County, Arkansas, Cleburne, Craighead, Crittenden, Faulkner, Izard, Lawrence, Phillips, Poinsett, Pulaski, Sharp and Stone counties have been named contiguous disaster counties. Arkansans can reach out to their local FSA offices for more information, the delegation said.