Farm Service Agency for Clallam County
Who: Jeffrey Peterson, senior farm loan officer
Phone: 748-0083 extension 2
Sequim farmers may now be eligible for emergency funding aimed at offsetting consecutive months of unusually warm, dry weather conditions.
The low interest loans became available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Aug. 19 after USDA officials flagged Clallam County as a “Primary Natural Disaster Area” because of damages and losses related to the drought.
“Our hearts go out to those Washington farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” Tom Vilsack, USDA secretary, said.
The Sequim-Dungeness Valley is one of, if not the largest area to rely on surface irrigation in Western Washington, according to Amanda Cronin, Washington Water Trust project manager, and also one of the first areas within the state that Gov. Jay Inslee recognized as undergoing a drought in March.
The rest of Washington shortly followed. By mid-May, Inslee made a statewide drought declaration.
Although all of Washington is considered to be experiencing anywhere from D1 (moderate drought) to D4 (exceptional drought), Clallam County is among 50.8 percent of the state experiencing D3 (extreme drought) to D4 conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor.
The National Drought Mitigation Center established at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln operates the US Drought Monitor, a weekly map that reflects how badly drought is affecting the country. The US Drought Monitor is produced in partnership with the USDA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with hundreds of expert observers nationwide.
Clallam County was last designated as a Natural Disaster Area in 2012 in response to Presidential declarations for severe winter storms, flooding and mudslides, Jeffrey Peterson, senior farm loan officer, said.
After a designation, farmers have eight months to apply for low interest emergency loans. Emergency loans administered through the USDA’s Farm Service Agency are intended to provide financial aid to help farmers recover from production and physical losses because of natural disasters, like drought. Under the program, farmers can borrow up to 100 percent of their actual production of physical losses, with a maximum of $500,000.
The Farm Service Agency serving Clallam County is located in Chehalis.
Jefferson County — also served by the same Farm Service Agency office — is included in the designation because of its proximity to Clallam County.