Hopkins County judge asking Gov. Rick Perry for disaster declaration because of drought
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Aug. 23, 2005 -- Little or no rainfall and extremely hot conditions are taking their toll on Hopkins County producers, and with no immediate relief in sight, Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap has asked Gov. Rick Perry for a disaster declaration.

“This is the most severe drought we have suffered this time of year for many years,” Millsap said. “Pasture and hay production is well below normal for the entire growing period.”

The disaster designation, if granted by the governor, would make farmers and ranchers in the county eligible to apply for a number of federal programs, including the Emergency Loan Program, Crop Disaster Program and Livestock Assistance Program.

The Emergency Loan Program can provide loans up to $500,000, according to Ellis Dicus, farm loan manager in the Farm Service Agency office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Sulphur Springs.

Both the Crop Disaster Program and the Livestock Assistance Program can provide support payments or subsidy payments to county producers that meet requirements of the programs.

“Our farmers and ranchers have had serious problems with the poor rain performance,” Millsap said. “This problem has occurred since April and is continuing.”

The county judge said he was hopeful that having the disaster designation in place would also enable ranchers to sell cattle under the drought conditions without being penalized by the Internal Revenue Service.

There was no indication when the governor would consider the request to the federal government for assistance to county producers.

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