Pa. Gov. Reports Help Available for Farmers Hurt with Crop Damage

Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell reported that Pennsylvania farmers who suffered drought-related crop damage last summer and fall can now receive emergency loan assistance.

Gov. Rendell wrote a letter earlier this year to the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking help for farmers in 23 counties.

“Our farmers and the agricultural industry are critical to the health of our economy,” Gov. Rendell said. “I called upon U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns to make sure our farmers were eligible for emergency assistance, and he has responded positively.”

According to the state Department of Agriculture, farms in 23 counties suffered $128 million worth of damage to crops like corn, soybeans, alfalfa and hay. Those counties, and their neighboring counties, are eligible for emergency loan assistance through Oct. 23.

“These emergency loans will help farmers recover from damages and enable them to prepare for the 2006 crop season,” the Governor said.

To help farmers better withstand weather-related crop losses, Gov. Rendell’s proposed 2006-07 budget includes $1 million for crop insurance.

“These severe losses underscore the value of crop insurance and risk management practices,” state Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff said. “Pennsylvania is working to help all farmers secure their own crop insurance and minimize the impact of adverse weather. In the meantime, these emergency loans will be a great help to those affected by last year’s dry weather.”

Emergency loans help cover production and physical losses in counties designated by the USDA. Borrowers must be established farmers who suffered a qualifying physical loss, or a production loss of at least 30 percent in any essential farm enterprise.

The 23 counties currently eligible for this assistance are: Armstrong, Bedford, Bradford, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Jefferson, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, McKean, Pike, Potter, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Washington and Wayne counties.

Twenty-seven contiguous counties also qualify for emergency loan assistance: Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Carbon, Clarion, Columbia, Crawford, Forest, Franklin, Huntingdon, Indiana, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, Somerset, Union, Warren, Westmoreland and Wyoming.

Emergency loan rates are 3.75 percent interest and are limited to 80 percent of actual production loss, or 100 percent of the physical loss, up to $500,000.

Loans are administered by the Farm Service Agency. For more information or to apply, contact a local FSA office or call the state office at (717) 237-2114. The deadline for 2006 crop insurance is March 15. For more information, call (717) 787-6041, or visit and click on “Producers.”