Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding notified farmland owners in 25 Pennsylvania counties that they are eligible to receive disaster relief assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) due to losses caused by drought that occurred during the 2020 crop year.
“I encourage Pennsylvania farmers who have experienced loss from mother nature’s unpredictably to check with their local Farm Service Agency to see how they can help,” said Redding. “Our farmers are resilient, battling both disaster and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and disaster. These farmers can now breathe a sigh of relief.”
USDA reviewed the Loss Assessment Reports and determined that there were sufficient production losses to warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation. Six Pennsylvania counties are designated as primary natural disaster areas, in two separate disaster designations.
Designation Number 1:
Drought that occurred June 1, 2020, through November 30, 2020
- Primary Counties: Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson
- Contiguous Counties: Armstrong, Blair, Cambria, Cameron, Clarion, Forest, Huntingdon, Indiana, Lycoming McKean, Mifflin, Potter, Union, Warren
Designation Number 2:
Drought that occurred June 6, 2020, through November 17, 2020
- Primary County: Cumberland
- Contiguous Counties: Adams, Dauphin, Franklin, Perry, York
A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the federal Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans.
Eligible farmers can apply for loans for up to eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration, and should contact their local FSA office for assistance. More information on USDA’s disaster assistance program, including county lists and maps, can be found at disaster.fsa.usda.gov.
March 15 is the federal deadline to enroll in crop insurance, and the droughts of 2020 are a stark reminder of the role crop insurance plays in mitigating risks. Those who took steps to enroll in crop insurance and guard against the risk, weathered the drought. Those who did not, are now looking at emergency loans like those afforded through the disaster declaration.
“While this designation is a welcome sigh of relief for many Pennsylvania farmers, it’s not something that should be relied on,” added Redding. “As farmers, we’re well aware that we cannot control the weather. But we can manage our risk, and that’s why I also encourage Pennsylvania farmers to enroll in crop insurance prior to the March 15 deadline.”
The Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center, established as part of the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, is available to provide advice and council to Pennsylvania farmers for their Risk Management opportunities.
Risk is an important consideration of the farming business. The uncertainties inherent in weather, yields, prices, global markets, biological pathogens, and other factors that impact farming can cause wide swings in farm income. Risk management involves choosing among alternatives that strengthen the resiliency of agriculture operations.
For more about the Pennsylvania Farm Bill visit agriculture.pa.gov/pafarmbill.