By Marcy Stamper
The federal government has several programs available for farmers and businesses with losses connected with the Carlton Complex Fire, subsequent floods and mudslides, and the overall drought that affected many counties in Washington. Each program has specific eligibility requirements.
Flood and mudslide help for farmers
Commercial farmers who have pastures or orchards damaged by flooding and mudslides after the fire can apply for federal grants for help with debris removal.
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has authorized funding for the Emergency Conservation Program, which can help remove natural debris — trees, rocks and mud. Removal of debris deposited by destroyed buildings or barns is not covered by the program, according to Cliffene Coyne, program technician with the Okanogan County FSA.
The program, which requires a cost-share contribution by the farmer, can also aid with replacement of permanent irrigation mainlines or weir boxes. Moveable irrigation systems, such as hand and wheel lines, are not eligible, said Coyne.
The program does not cover other losses associated with the flood.
No deadline has been set for applications, but Coyne urged eligible farmers and livestock producers to apply as soon as possible. There is also no specific amount yet allocated for the program, since the funds are distributed nationwide and divided by each state and the number of grantees, said Coyne.
Burned fruit trees
Another FSA program, the Tree Assistance Program, helps orchardists who lost trees in the fire. Orchardists can apply for help with replacement and replanting of trees that died (it does not cover trees that are merely damaged). If a damaged tree dies next year, the fruit grower can reapply, said Coyne. The program covers only fruit trees; it is not for timber losses.
The deadline for the fruit tree program is Jan. 31.
To apply for flood and fruit tree programs:
Farmers and ranchers must complete an application for the flood or fruit tree grant programs at the FSA in Okanogan. Information is available on the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov under “Programs and Services” and then “Disaster Assistance Programs.”
For more information or to make an appointment to fill out an application, call Coyne at (509) 422-3292, ext. 2.
Two programs — not connected with the fire — help farmers and business owners with losses associated with the drought that affected much of Washington.
An FSA grant program helps livestock producers affected by the drought with the costs of grazing livestock for one month. To apply for the drought grant program, contact the FSA at (509) 422-3292, ext. 2.
The deadline to apply for FSA drought grants is Jan. 31.
For nonfarm businesses:
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering low-interest loans to offset reduced revenues caused by the drought in 18 counties in Washington (including Okanogan) and one in Oregon. Losses from the drought must have occurred after April 1, 2014.
The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans are for small nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, nurseries and private nonprofit organizations. Eligible businesses can borrow up to $2 million to help meet working-capital needs caused by the disaster.
These loans are available regardless of whether the applicant suffered property damage from the drought.
The interest rate is 4 percent for businesses and 2.625 percent for nonprofits, with terms up to 30 years.
Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster loans. Commercial farmers should contact the FSA about applicable programs.
The deadline to apply for SBA drought loans is Jan. 28.