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Strain: USDA streamlines disaster designation process

July 13, 2012

New USDA rules are expected to fast track assistance Louisiana farmers and ranchers can receive as the result of an agricultural disaster.

“The USDA is making much needed changes to the disaster declaration process,” Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said. “In the past, there was so much red tape and bureaucracy it could take weeks or even months after a parish met disaster criteria before a USDA designation would be issued.”

The amended rules and procedure include:

  • For drought, once a parish is categorized by the U.S. Drought Monitor as experiencing a severe drought for eight consecutive weeks during the growing season, the parish nearly automatically qualifies for a natural disaster designation.
  • Disaster declaration requests no longer must be initiated by a governor or Indian tribal council.
  • Reduced the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loan interest rate from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent.
  • Annual rental payments by producers on Conservation Reserve Program acres used for emergency haying or grazing will be reduced to 10 percent in 2012 instead of 25 percent.

“This is a step in the right direction,” Strain said. “It is important to be able to deliver assistance to farmers and ranchers when they need it the most.” 

Criteria currently used to trigger a disaster designation remain unchanged.

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