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Summer heat, drought make Putnam one of 45 counties pegged natural disaster areas

Friday, February 10, 2012

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Putnam and 44 other counties in Indiana as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by the combined effects of drought and excessive heat during the period July 1 through Oct. 18, 2011.

In addition to Putnam County, the declaration also involves the neighboring counties of Clay, Hendricks, Morgan, Owen and Parke.

The remaining 39 counties affected are: Allen, Brown, Daviess, Dearborn, Fayette, Fountain, Gibson, Grant, Greene, Jay, Jefferson, Jennings, Knox, Lagrange, Marion, Martin, Monroe, Noble, Ohio, Orange, Perry, Pike, Posey, Randolph, Ripley, Shelby, Spencer, Sullivan, Switzerland, Union, Vermillion, Vigo, Wabash, Warrick, Washington, Wayne and Wells.

Meanwhile, farm operators in counties such as Montgomery also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous to the 45 designated counties.

"Indiana FSA and its employees are committed to helping farmers navigate the multitude of programs that may be available in eligible counties," advised Julia A. Wickard, state executive director of USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Indiana.

"The summer of 2011 will not be long forgotten by those producers and their families that were negatively impacted by severe dry weather. USDA is here to assist," Wickard added.

July 2011 ranked as the hottest Indiana month in 75 years, and central Indiana set a record with 23 straight days of 90-degree or warmer temperatures from July 17 through Aug. 8.

Even September was warm, with Thursday, Sept. 1 producing a 99-degree high, the hottest single September temperature recorded in the area in 57 years.

"Indiana farmers have experienced drought and excessive heat conditions over a long period of time, which has caused major losses to a wide variety of crops such as grain and forage crops, pasture and some specialty crops," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "President Obama and I are committed to using the resources at our disposal to reduce the impact of these disasters on Indiana producers and help to get those affected back on their feet."

All counties listed were designated natural disaster areas, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low-interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met.

Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Additional information is also available online at: http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

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