USDA has designated 53 parishes in Louisiana as primary natural disaster areas because of losses caused by the combined effects of spring and summer drought followed by excessive rainfall that occurred during the period of April 1 through Oct. 30.

The 53 parishes are: Acadia, Ascension, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, Caldwell, Cameron, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia,

DeSoto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Iberia, Iberville,

Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Lafayette, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Orleans, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee,

Rapides, Red River, Richland, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany,

Tangipahoa, Tensas, Vermilion, Vernon, Washington, Webster, West Baton Rouge, and West Carroll.

“President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to the area and serious harm to farms in Louisiana and we want to help,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This action will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses to corn, cotton, rice, sorghum, soybeans, forage crops and sweet potatoes.”

Farm operators in the parishes listed below in Louisiana also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their parishes are contiguous. Those parishes are: Allen, Assumption, Jackson, Lafourche, Lincoln, Sabine, St. Mary, Union, Winn, and West Feliciana.

Farm operators in the counties listed below in the adjacent states of Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

Arkansas: Ashley, Chicot, Columbia, Lafayette, Miller and Union.

Mississippi: Adams, Amite, Claiborne, Hancock, Issaquena, Jefferson, Marion, Pearl River, Pike, Walthall, Warren and Wilkinson.

Texas: Cass, Harrison, Jefferson, Marion, Newton, Orange, Panola and Shelby.

All parishes and counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Nov. 24, 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 parishes and 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 has also 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. 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.