Monday, February 2, 2009

USDA deems Western Oregon a natural disaster

By Salem Monthly Editors
from WillametteLive, Section News
Posted on Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 12:39:26 PM PDT


In mid-January, 12 Oregon counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas due to the physical losses of crop caused by the freezing temperatures that occurred during the wintry blast of December 2008.

Farm, nursery, and ranch operators in Benton, Columbia, Douglas, Jackson, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington, and Yamhill Counties are eligible for Farm Service Agency (FSA) low interest emergency loans.

Nate Rafn, host of Living Culture and SM's "Date with Nate" columnist, acknowledges some farmers that have experienced weather related problems.

"I know that many farmers experienced greenhouse collapses, due to the ice. I've heard of other farmers having trouble with increased rainfall in certain areas. Rain has an effect on soil erosion and quality of water run-off. That's why, for many farms, cover crops are so important. They hold the earth together, and absorb some of the water."

In additional to those counties, 11 other Oregon counties were named as contiguous disaster areas, where operators may also qualify for loan assistance. Those counties are Clatsop, Coos, Curry, Deschutes, Hood River,

Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lincoln, Tillamook, and Wasco Counties.

"As far as spring produce goes, I'm just not sure of all the long term impacts," Rafn said. "If a farmer lost a greenhouse, and can't replace it right away, then he/she would be late on starting tomato, pepper, lettuce, cucumber, and squash plants, among others."

All loans will be considered by the FSA by weighing the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs available in addition to these emergency loans programs to help farm operators recover from adversity.

Farm, nursery, and ranch operators are encouraged to contact their USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures. The FSA also has information online at

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