Columbus - 
State Senator Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) recently addressed the United States Department of Agriculture's designation of 49 Ohio counties as primary agricultural natural disaster areas. The USDA hopes to provide relief to communities that were most affected by disastrous weather in the first half of 2011. According to the USDA, the counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas, due to excessive rain, flooding, flash flooding, high winds, excessive heat and tornadoes that occurred from February 2, 2011 through July 31, 2011. Included in this designation are Athens, Coshocton, Guernsey, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, and Washington Counties. "Our communities are still trying to recover from the catastrophic conditions of earlier this year," said Balderson. "These resources will be of great help in getting our farmers back on their feet. It is imperative that we spread the word about available assistance so that we can get aid into the hands of those who need it." Qualified farm operators in the designated areas will be eligible for low interest emergency loans from the USDA's Farm Service Agency. Eligible farmers must apply for aid within eight months of September 7, 2011, the date the distinction was given. Other programs are also available through the USDA, such as the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), the Emergency Conservation Program, Federal Crop Insurance, and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Farmers interested in applying for aid should contact their local FSA county office for more information on these programs and the necessary procedures required.
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