WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture  has designated Androscoggin and Oxford counties as primary natural disaster areas because of losses from the recent drought. 

Farmers and ranchers in Cumberland, Sagadahoc and York counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance, according to the USDA.

“Our hearts go out to those Maine farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “We’re also telling Maine producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.” 

All eligible farm operators in the designated areas are eligible for low-interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency, according to the USDA.

Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration — Sept. 29 — to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. 

The FSA has nonemergency programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration:

• Emergency Conservation Program

• Livestock Forage Disaster Program

• Livestock Indemnity Program

• Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program.

• Tree Assistance Program

Additional information is also available online at disaster.fsa.usda.gov

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