U.S. Department of Agriculture designated counties in Texas as primary natural disaster areas, making all qualified farm operators in the designated area eligible for low-interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Lubbock was designated a primary disaster area due to losses caused by drought, high winds and extreme temperatures that occurred from Jan. 1, 2006, and continuing. Also eligible because they are contiguous are Crosby, Floyd, Garza, Hale, Hockley, Lamb, Lynn and Terry Counties.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Aug. 8, 2006, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for EM loans, 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 emergency loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

USDA has also made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including 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.

FSA news releases and media advisories are available on FSAís Web site at:

http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/.