WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman today joined Congressmen Rick Crawford (AR-1), Tim Griffin (AR-2), and Steve Womack (AR-3) to announce that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 61 Arkansas counties as disaster areas, making farmers and ranchers eligible for financial assistance to help them recover from losses caused by last year's drought.
"With our state still reeling from last year's drought, it's important that we give Arkansas farmers and ranchers the tools and resources they need to get back on their feet," Pryor said. "This disaster declaration will help producers recover and ensure that our agricultural sector remains strong."
"Agriculture is our state's largest industry and it took quite a hit during last year's record drought. This disaster declaration is the first step toward getting much needed emergency assistance for Arkansas's farmers and ranchers. We need to continue our work to help family farmers and ranchers recover from the challenges brought on from the drought and to pass a five-year farm bill to provide them stability for the future," Boozman said.
"Last year's record drought affected every farm family in Arkansas's First District. Today's disaster declaration from the Department of Agriculture will give these families access to emergency loans so they can keep their operations afloat," said Crawford. "While this assistance is welcome news, it only further underscores the need for a 5-year Farm Bill that includes options for farmers facing disaster."
"In August, I toured a number of family farms in the Second Congressional District, where I saw firsthand how last year's crippling drought impacted them, their livestock and crops, and our economy. Today's declaration will help them get the assistance they need to recover," said Griffin.
"Arkansas's Third District was hit particularly hard by drought in 2012, and those conditions have continued into 2013," Womack said. "This disaster declaration will help ensure farmers and ranchers have access to the assistance necessary to recover from the losses they have experienced."
Under this designation, Arkansas producers will be eligible to apply for assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) for up to 8 months. This assistance will include FSA Emergency Loans (EM), which provide funding to replace or restore property, pay production costs and essential living expenses, reorganize farming operations, or refinance certain debts. Producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency Offices for more information.
Arkansas counties included in the disaster declaration include: Arkansas, Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clark, Clay, Cleburne, Conway, Craighead, Crawford, Crittenden, Dallas, Faulkner, Franklin, Fulton, Garland, Grant, Greene, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Lafayette, Lawrence, Little River, Logan, Lonoke, Madison, Marion, Miller, Mississippi, Monroe, Montgomery, Nevada, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Pike, Polk, Poinsett, Pope, Prairie, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Scott, Searcy, Sebastian, Sevier, Sharp, Stone, Van Buren, Washington, White, Woodruff, and Yell.
(Source: Office of Senator Pryor)