Low Interest Emergency Loans Now Available to Farmers

MIAMI (CBS4)The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Miami-Dade County a primary natural disaster area following severe weather that caused an estimated $51 million in crop damage in southern Miami-Dade County.

The designation covers losses caused by frost and freezes that occurred between November 5, 2010 and December 17, 2010.

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As a designated natural disaster area, all qualified farm operators in the designated areas are eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met.

Farmers in Miami-Dade County have eight months from the date of the declaration, January 25, 2011, 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 EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

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“This is great news for Miami-Dade County.  It will give some much needed financial support to our local famers and growers,” said Charles LaPradd, Miami-Dade County Agricultural Manager.  “Our local agricultural industry has taken a hit of more than $50 million, and I am pleased that the USDA recognized the need for this aid in our community.”

On January 19, 2011, Miami-Dade County urged the USDA to issue a disaster declaration following widespread crop damage in south Miami-Dade as a result of severe cold weather this winter season.  Miami-Dade County Manager George M. Burgess and Agricultural Manager Charles LaPradd visited with local farmers and talked about the County’s continued need for a disaster declaration.  Devastated crops include green beans, squash, zucchini, bananas, papaya and boniato.  Miami-Dade is one of 26 counties in the State of Florida which has received this designation.

Agriculture is one of Miami-Dade County’s most significant industries employing more than 20,000 people and providing a local economic impact of more than $2.7 billion.

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For more information on Miami-Dade County’s Agriculture Department, visit www.miami-dade.gov/agriculture/home.asp