USDA has designated Avoyelles, Pointe Coupee and St. Martin parishes in Louisiana as primary natural disaster areas because of losses caused by flooding, excessive rainfall, high winds, hail, lightning and tornadoes that occurred between April 6 and May 16, 2008.

Farm operators in the following parishes also qualify for natural disaster benefits because their parishes are contiguous: Assumption, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Mary, Catahoula, Iberville, Rapides, West Baton Rouge, Concordia, La Salle, St. Landry, West Feliciana and Evangeline.

The parishes were designated natural disaster areas on Sept. 5, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency 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.