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USDA declares 44 counties disaster areas

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 44 counties in Mississippi as primary natural disaster areas due a drought that occurred May 1-Dec. 31, 2010.

The counties are: Amite, Hancock, Leflore, Quitman, Benton, Harrison, Lincoln, Sharkey, Bolivar, Hinds, Lowndes, Simpson, Carroll, Holmes, Marshall, Stone, Chickasaw, Issaquena, Monroe, Sunflower, Claiborne, Jefferson, Newton, Tallahatchie, Clay, Jefferson Davis, Noxubee, Tate, Coahoma, Jones, Oktibbeha, Tunica, Covington, Kemper , Panola, Wilkinson, DeSoto, Leake, Pearl River, Winston, Franklin, Lee, Pike and Yazoo.

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Mississippi also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous:  Adams; Humphreys; Marion; Tippah; Attala; Itawamba; Montgomery; Union; Calhoun; Jackson; Neshoba; Walthall; Choctaw; Jasper; Perry; Warren; Clarke; Lafayette; Pontotoc; Washington; Copiah; Lamar; Prentiss; Wayne; Forrest; Lauderdale; Rankin; Webster; George; Lawrence; Scott; Yalobusha; Grenada; Madison; and, Smith.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas Feb. 28, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), 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.

USDA also has made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

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