Emergency farm loan applications being taken for May 15 storm damage

From Staff Reports

July 1, 2008 - Farms and ranches hit hard by a May 15 storm that toppled trees across the southern and eastern sections of Hopkins County and points beyond are eligible for some financial help from the federal government.

Applications for emergency farm loans for physical losses caused by the high winds that occurred that morning are being accepted at the Farm Service Agency office located in Sulphur Springs, Ellis Dicus said today.

Hopkins was one of several counties hit by the storm and has been designated as the primary county eligible for assistance. Named as contiguous counties and also eligible are Delta, Franklin, Hunt, Lamar, Rains, Red River and Wood counties. Dicus emphasized that producers in these counties, like Hopkins, are eligible for loans to cover physical losses only resulting from the high winds.

The powerful thunderstorm carrying destructive straight line winds roared through Northeast Texas in the early morning hours of May 15, knocking down trees and downing power lines in its wake.

The Como-Pickton area and the rest of Southeast Hopkins County, along with Winnsboro and Yantis, were reported to be the hardest-hit, with thousands of households left without electricity for hours after the storm. Emergency dispatchers were flooded with calls after daybreak of downed trees and power lines.

Dicus said farmers may be eligible for loans of up to 100 percent of their actual physical losses. For farmers unable to obtain credit from private commercial lenders, the interest rate is 3.75 percent.

The applications will be taken until Feb. 26 of next year, but Dicus said farmers should apply as soon as they can.

"Delays in applying could create backlogs in processing, with possible delays into the new farming season," he said.

FSA, a credit agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is authorized to provide disaster emergency loans tofarmers who work at and rely on farming for a substantial part of their living.

Eligibility is extended to individual farmers who meet U.S. citizenship requirements and to farming partnerships, corporations, or cooperatives in which U.S. citizenship requirements are met by individuals holding a majority interest.

The Farm Service Agency office in Sulphur Springs, located at 530 Hillcrest Drive, is open from 8 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Call the FSA office at 903-885-4433 for more information.

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