Augusta, ME (STL.News) Maine’s Congressional Delegation and Governor Janet Mills welcomed the announcement today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made farmers throughout Maine eligible for disaster relief assistance due to the drought.
“Maine farmers have faced tremendous challenges this year, from supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 to the drought that severely impacted the growing season,” said Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Golden in a joint statement. “Maine farms sustain our rural communities, whether they are newly founded operations or ones that have been passed down from generation to generation. We strongly supported COVID-19 relief funding to help Maine farmers get through this difficult period, and this designation will help provide additional assistance.”
“The statewide drought conditions are severely impacting our agricultural sector and the rural communities they support,” said Governor Mills. “I welcome the USDA’s declaration and the disaster relief it will bring to Maine’s hardworking farmers. I will continue to work closely with Maine’s Congressional Delegation to support our farmers throughout this challenging period.”
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue designated Franklin, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Sagadahoc, Somerset, and Washington counties as primary natural disaster areas. Androscoggin, Aroostook, Cumberland, Kennebec, Lincoln, Oxford, Waldo, and York counties were named as contiguous disaster counties. Secretary Perdue previously designated Aroostook County as a primary natural disaster area in September.
A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), which includes FSA emergency loans. FSA emergency loans may be used to:
- Restore or replace essential property;
- Pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year;
- Pay essential family living expenses;
- Reorganize the farming operation; and
- Refinance certain debts.
Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans.