Federal officials are offering aid to local farmers and ranchers who have lost revenue due to drought conditions.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated three counties and an independent city in Nevada as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by drought, as well as five adjacent counties in California, including Inyo.
Farmers and ranchers in the natural disaster area are eligible for financial compensation for their losses.
Inyo County Agricultural Department Program Coordinator Nate Reade said his department is prepared to assist any eligible farmer or rancher in Inyo County who is planning to apply for assistance. To be eligible, a farmer or rancher must live within the designated disaster area and have experienced a loss of income due to the drought.
Reade said the USDA designates a county as a drought-impacted area if it experiences eight weeks of consecutive drought conditions.
Those who were impacted by the drought are invited to apply for low-interest emergency loans from the USDA’s Farm Service agency. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration of emergency, Feb. 27, 2013, to apply for the loans to help cover part of their actual losses.
The FSA will consider each loan application individually, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.
The other California counties qualifying for financial aid are Mono, Alpine, El Dorado and Placer.
Actions taken by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to provide assistance to producers impacted by the drought included the extension of emergency grazing permits on Conservation Reserve Program acres, which, according to the USDA, freed up a record 2.8 million acres and as much as $200 million in forage and feed for ranchers during a challenging time.
Vilsack also approved the purchase of $170 million of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish for federal food nutrition assistance programs and reducing emergency loan rates, from 3.75 percent to 2.125 percent. Vilsack also made emergency loans available earlier in the season.
Additional programs available to assist farmers and ranchers include the Emergency Conservation Program, Federal Crop Insurance and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
Reade said that anyone in Inyo and Mono counties who is interested in applying for disaster aid can contact the Inyo and Mono County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office at (760) 873-7860 or visit www.disaster.fsa.usda.gov  for more information.