The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Caguas, Gurabo, Juncos and San Lorenzo as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by drought conditions on the island.
“Our hearts go out to those Puerto Rico farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times.”
“We’re also telling Puerto Rico producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood,” he said.
Farmers and ranchers in Aguas Buenas, Cidra, San Juan, Canóvanas, Las Piedras, Trujillo Alto, Carolina, Patillas, Yabucoa, and Cayey also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous, the agency said.
All counties listed were designated natural disaster areas on July 15, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration 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.