Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Blaine County declared disaster area

Heavy August rains caused crop losses

Express Staff Writer

    Blaine County is one of eight counties in southern and eastern Idaho recently designated as disaster areas due to crop losses caused by an extreme amount of rain in August.
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture made the designation on Oct. 2. Two other counties, Jerome and Twin Falls, were declared disaster areas in September.

During 2014, Idaho has had disaster declarations for everything from drought to hail and too much moisture.”
Aaron Johnson
Farm Service Agency

    The designation allows farmers in the designated counties, as well as adjacent ones, to obtain emergency federal loans to help with planting next year’s crop. The 3 percent emergency loans are in addition to 2 percent regular operating loans already available. Those loans have a $300,000 cap per lender.
    “During 2014, Idaho has had disaster declarations for everything from drought to hail and too much moisture,” said Aaron Johnson, acting state executive director for the U.S. Farm Service Agency in Idaho. “We want producers to know that FSA is doing all they can to help Idaho’s farmers and ranchers when these natural disasters impact their operations.”
    Blaine County farmers primarily raise barley and alfalfa hay. Most local barley farmers have contracts to sell their crops at a set price to MillerCoors, near Twin Falls, or Anheuser-Busch, near Idaho Falls. However, the brewers reserve the right to reject barley that has begun to sprout due to wet weather. Farmers must then sell their crop as feed, at less than half the price of malting barley.
    Picabo farmer Pat Purdy, who serves on the Idaho Barley Commission, said about half his family’s barley crop will have to be sold as feed, at 40 percent of the price of malt barley.
    “I think the losses for some growers are going to be substantial, for other growers less so,” Purdy said.
    Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their losses. The Farm Service Agency said it will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

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