The United States Department of Agriculture is coordinating with local farms and providing emergency loans to farmers who were affected by the drought during summer 2012.
Philip Ayers, Adair County Executive Director of the USDA, said 31 counties in the state have been designated as natural disaster areas, including Adair County. He said Adair County is what is known as a “continuous county,” meaning Adair County neighbors a county that met disaster designations declared by Gov. Jay Nixon and President Barack Obama. Ayers said Adair County has about 900 farmers who lost about two-thirds of their crop and cattle due to the drought.
Ayers said the natural disaster designation is one of many.
To be eligible for an Emergency Loan, Gary Elrod, Adair County USDA Senior Farm Loan Officer, said farmers must apply within eight months of a disaster declaration. He said before an application is accepted or declined, applicants must provide income tax records, financial information and a credit report.
“Whenever we do an emergency loan, we are required to take security,” Elrod said. “It would take the deed of trust on the real estate as well as a lean on the livestock and machinery.”
Ayers said 90 percent of farmers in Adair County have crop insurance. He said insurance is voluntary but is one way farmers can avoid taking an emergency loan. He said farmers purchase crop insurance from private insurers that is subsidized through the USDA’s Risk Management Agency.
“About every farmer has crop insurance now,” Ayers said. “They just can’t afford a farm without it.”
University Farm Manager Bill Kuntz said the farm does not have crop insurance since it is part of the University and receives University funds. He said the drought did affect the farm, specifically the Farm to School Program and pay production to feed livestock. He said some livestock had to be sold.
Kuntz said reducing the amount of livestock is one adjustment the University Farm has had to make because of budget cuts and the price of hay.
“There is a lot of crop, livestock and other agriculture that goes on in Adair County,” Kuntz said. “The heat affected [the farm] more than the drought. We spent a lot of water on watering plants.”
Ayers said the USDA has a program in which 70 producers give water to cattle farmers who have had their streams and ponds go dry. He said the water is pumped to farmers in need from rural water systems or from large lakes.
Kuntz said the University Farm did not have to pump in any water since most of the Farm’s water supply is through the City.
He said another method farmers can implement to prepare for future natural disasters and to avoid loans is to set aside personal funds to sustain the farm through the “lean year,” or when harvest is below average.