Governor Beebe received word today that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has declared all 75 Arkansas counties as agricultural natural-disaster areas.
Beebe requested the designation earlier this summer after a wide range of natural disasters impacted Arkansas farmers.
Under the declaration, farmers across the state may apply for assistance through their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. That assistance may include both emergency loans and direct aid from the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program if a farmer meets eligibility requirements.
Governor Beebe requested the assistance in late July after flooding, drought, excessive heat, wind and hail battered crops beginning in April.
Farmers in all 75 counties will now have eight months to file their applications for disaster assistance.
U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman, along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin, Steve Womack, and Mike Ross welcomes the news in a joint news release.
This assistance includes FSA Emergency Loans (EM), which provides funding to replace or restore property, pay production costs and essential living expenses, reorganize farming operations, or refinance certain debts. Individuals may also apply for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program, which provides financial assistance for crop production and quality losses.
"Many crops this year didn't stand a chance against the hail, winds, flooding, drought and excessive heat they were up against," Pryor said. "This assistance enables Arkansas farmers to get back on their feet, operate, and continue to be a strong force in our state's economy."
"The devastation we experienced in Arkansas earlier this year is on par with some of the most destructive recent natural disasters in our nation. In a state where agriculture is our biggest industry, Arkansas's economic well-being is dependent upon the ability of our farmers and ranchers to rebuild after the storm. This designation ensures our farmers and ranchers who were adversely affected by the recent tornadoes and flooding are eligible for assistance. It is an important step forward for our agriculture community," Boozman said.
"2011 was an awful year for agriculture in the First District, which suffered massive crop loss due multiple natural disasters," said Crawford. "USDA disaster assistance will help farmers across Arkansas recover and reinvest in farm production so that our agriculture community will continue to be the backbone of our state's economy."
"Agriculture is an integral part of Arkansas's economy and heritage, and it is critical to job creation across the state," Griffin said. "Today's announcement is welcome news for the farmers, ranchers, and others who have been the hardest hit by this year's unexpected and extraordinary natural disasters."
"Mother Nature has been less than kind to Arkansas farmers this year, causing tremendous crop damage with erratic and severe weather," Womack said. "This emergency assistance ensures that those affected can continue providing goods and services to the rest of Arkansans despite these difficult circumstances."
"Arkansas's farmers and farm families are already struggling because of a weak economy. When you add an onslaught of extreme weather and natural disasters, it begins to threaten our state's way of life," said Ross. "Agriculture is Arkansas's number one industry and this type of support will help our farmers and farm families recover, rebuild and become stronger than ever before."
According to the Arkansas Farm Bureau, the state has suffered over $500 million in production losses due to hail, winds, flooding, drought, and excessive heat in the spring and summer of 2011.