Secretary Vilsack Designates 55 California Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

On February 4th, USDA Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack designated 55 California counties as primary natural disaster areas due to a recent drought.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (see, these counties suffered from a drought intensity value during the growing season of: (1) D2 (Drought-Severe) for 8 or more consecutive weeks; or (2) D3 (Drought-Extreme) or D4 (Drought-Exceptional).  In accordance with section 321(a) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, Del Norte, Imperial, and San Francisco Counties in California, are named as contiguous disaster counties. A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm, and the security and repayment ability of the operator. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.