Arkansas’ Faulkner, Lonoke, Mississippi and Woodruff counties have been designated as natural disaster areas by USDA. The counties suffered losses caused by severe thunderstorms, hail, high winds and tornadoes that occurred between April 23 and May 4.

“President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to variety of crops, including corn, upland cotton, rice, soybeans, wheat, peaches and strawberries,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This action will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses.”

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Arkansas also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous: Arkansas, Cleburne, Conway, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Jackson, Jefferson, Monroe, Perry, Poinsett, Prairie, Pulaski, St. Francis, Van Buren and White.

Farmers in the Missouri counties of Grand and San Juan — along with Tennessee counties of Dyer, Lauderdale and Tipton — also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas June 8, 2010, 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, which was approved as part of the 2008 farm bill; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. 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://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.