Photo: AgriLife Today (Flickr)
Farmers in all 92 Indiana counties are now eligible to receive emergency loans from the federal government to provide relief from the severe drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture added 13 Hoosier counties to its loan-eligible list Thursday.
To be eligible, counties must be named disaster areas – which means under severe drought for eight consecutive weeks – or be contiguous to a disaster area county. Despite improved weather conditions in recent weeks, Indiana’s crops are forecast to fall far below average production levels.
USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive director Julia Wickard says her agency is already processing many loan applications, though it has not issued a loan yet. And while each farmer’s application is considered on its own, she says the process should not take long.
“If we had an application come in the door today, due diligence was done on the loan application, all of the issues were addressed, I would say we’d be able to process something within the month,” she says.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack last month reduced the interest rate of the loans from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent to help address the extreme conditions created by the drought.