The feds confirmed what a lot of farm folks already knew.
This is a disaster area.
A declaration of disaster by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has opened the doors for Merced County farmers and ranchers to get low-cost loans because of drought losses.
The county, along with other San Joaquin Valley counties, was declared a natural disaster area Monday.
"By getting this disaster declaration it makes available emergency loans to farmers," said Laura Westerfield, county executive director of the USDA.
There are some rules about getting the loans, Westerfield said. Farmers or ranchers must have had a certain percentage of loss from weather conditions. And they have to be unable to get conventional lending.
"The drought declaration for livestock forage was already in the pipeline," Westerfield said. Livestock producers will be eligible for money because of their loss of feed because of little rainfall in the foothills. Many cattlemen put their herds in the foothills of Mariposa and Merced counties in the winter, when rains bring nutritious green grass to the area.
But livestock producers will have had to have hedged their losses from the beginning, Westerfield said. They had to have bought the equivalent of catastrophic insurance, or they won't be eligible for anything, she said. "We have a deadline coming up for 2010," Westerfield said. "We have to have applicants by Dec. 1."
Read the complete story at mercedsunstar.com