News Release
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Media Contacts:
Nancy Lungren, Deputy Secretary of Public Affairs, (916) 654-0433
Steve Lyle, Director of Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462
USDA DECLARES 13 CALIFORNIA COUNTIES PRIMARY NATURAL DISASTER AREAS DUE TO FREEZE AND DROUGHT DAMAGE
CDFA
Release #07-046
Secretary Kawamura urges producers to explore emergency loan programs
SACRAMENTO – CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura today commended the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) decision to designate 13 California counties primary natural disaster areas.

“California farmers and ranchers have faced significant weather challenges over the last three years, especially the extreme freeze earlier this year and recent drought conditions,” said Secretary Kawamura. “I urge all eligible producers to explore the USDA’s emergency programs to help with their recovery.”

The following information was announced on May 16, 2007 by the USDA Farm Service Agency:

San Benito County was designated a primary natural disaster area due to losses caused by extremely low temperature and freezing conditions that occurred from Jan. 12, 2007, through Jan. 24, 2007. Also eligible because they are contiguous are Fresno, Merced, Monterey, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.
 
San Joaquin County was designated a primary natural disaster area due to losses caused by the combined effects of drought and freezing temperatures that occurred during the period of Oct. 15, 2006, and continuing. Also eligible because they are contiguous are Alameda, Amador, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Sacramento and Stanislaus counties.
 
Contra Costa and Fresno counties were designated primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by the combined effects of drought, higher than normal temperatures and prolonged freezing conditions that occurred during the period of Oct. 15, 2006, and continuing. Also eligible because they are contiguous are Alameda, Inyo, Kings, Madera, Mono, Monterey, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, Solano and Tulare counties.

 Merced, Stanislaus and Tulare counties were designated primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by the combined effects of drought and abnormally cold temperatures that occurred during the period of Oct. 15, 2006, and continuing. Also eligible because they are contiguous are Alameda, Calaveras, Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, San Benito, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and Tuolumne counties.

 Kern, Kings, Lake, Mariposa, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties were designated primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by drought that occurred during the period of Oct. 15, 2006, and continuing.


Also eligible because they are contiguous are the following counties:
Colusa
Fresno
Glenn
Inyo
Los Angeles
Madera
Mendocino
Merced
Monterey
Napa
San Bernardino
Sonoma
Stanislaus
Tulare
Tuolumne
Ventura
Yolo

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on May 9, 2007, 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. According to California State Executive Director John Smythe, 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.
 
Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=diap&topic=landing

 The USDA's decision has made farmers from the above listed 13 counties eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency. Additionally, the USDA has also made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Federal Crop Insurance and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

Secretary Kawamura also praised Governor Schwarzenegger for his commitment to provide disaster relief for workers and small businesses impacted by the series of disasters:

* Awarded a $2.5 million grant to assist farmworkers in Tulare County
who were laid off due to January 2007 freeze.

* Authorized the California Department of Housing and Community
Development to release a Notice of Funding Availability for $4 million in
disencumbered Community Development Block Grant funds to assist victims of the January 2007 freeze.

* Provided $2 million in HOME funds for housing assistance for freeze
victims.

* Authorized $3.25 million in emergency funding to help victims make
rent, mortgage and utility payments. The funding was distributed to La
Cooperativa, the community-based organization which locally allocates money
to those impacted by the freeze.

* Provided more than $4.7 million in aid to food banks for them to
meet the emergency food needs of people impacted by the freeze. The
Governor's May Revise includes an additional $4.45 million for food banks.
 
* Appropriated $100,000 to the United Farm Workers Foundation (UFW
Foundation) for outreach services to vulnerable populations.  The UFW
Foundation is using the funds to connect impacted workers with available
services.

* Urged members of Congress to support the funding package for
California counties impacted by January's extreme weather.  Administration
officials have worked with the California Congressional Delegation to ensure
that the FEMA Mortgage and Rental Assistance Program is reauthorized.

* Authorized local jurisdictions within 18 counties impacted by the
extreme cold weather to redirect $85 million in Community Development Block Grants and HOME funds to help freeze victims pay rent or make home repairs.

* Opened a total of 20 one-stop centers to provide essential services
and programs and referrals to programs such as job and unemployment
assistance, support with food programs and housing assistance, utilities
relief and health care information to assist individuals who have been
affected by the freeze. www.oes.ca.gov

* Requested the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) make low
interest emergency loan assistance available to agricultural interests.  The
USDA has made this assistance available to farmers in 47 counties.

* Requested the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) make
businesses in counties impacted by the freeze eligible for the Economic
Injury Disaster Loan Program. This program helps businesses meet necessary
financial obligations that their business could have met had the disaster
not occurred. It also provides relief from economic injury caused directly
by the disaster and permits the business to maintain a reasonable working
capital position during the period affected by the disaster.  The SBA has
made this assistance available to businesses in 52 counties.

* Signed an executive order waiving the one-week waiting period from
when people are laid off to when they can file claims. Eligible workers will
be able to file an unemployment claim immediately.

 

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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814
916-654-0462, www.cdfa.ca.gov