A local agriculture agency has mailed out about 20 applications for money available to farmers through a drought-assistance program created last month.
Dean Altenhofen, supervisor of the Douglas County Farmer's Home Administration, said today that his office had not received any completed applications for the assistance yet. But Altenhofen added he expected quite a few before the deadline, based on questions from interested farmers. Deadline to apply Sept. 4.
"We've had a lot of people call and come in," Altenhofen said.
Of those expressing an interest in the program, most have been from Jefferson County, which was hit harder by the recent drought than Douglas County and other area counties, he said.
NEARLY ALL OF Jefferson County was hurt by the drought whereas only about the northern half of Douglas County was damaged, he said.
"It's been real busy in Jefferson County," Altenhofen said. "Everything from about Oskaloosa to Lawrence was pretty burned up."
Altenhofen said response to the program has been about what he expected, adding that he should have a better idea of how many applications his office would handle in 30 to 45 days, when he predicted things would slow down.
The drought assistance program was created by the federal government late last month to help those farmers affected by drought conditions.
In Kansas, the program is being administered for the 71 counties declared disaster areas because of the drought and announced by Gov. Mike Hayden on Jan. 4.
THE DISASTER designations were made by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Clayton Yeutter, based on crop losses caused by the drought and other adverse weather conditions. The information was supplied by local county agriculture agencies.
Farmers who lost at least 30 percent of their crop income because of the drought and are unable to get credit elsewhere could qualify for the assistance. Losses must have been suffered between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1.
To qualify, farmers' incomes will be averaged over the past five years and that figure will be compared to 1989 income, Altenhofen said.
Farmers can receive assistance in the form of low-interest loans to cover up to 80 percent of their losses, or for an amount up to $500,000, whichever is less.
Farmers in counties neighboring those declared disaster areas also can qualify for the program and must meet the same criteria, Altenhofen said.
COUNTIES ADJACENT to those declared disasters were made eligible for the program because farmers there could have felt the same effects as the disaster area counties, he said.
The local FmHA office, 3010 Four Wheel Dr., serves Douglas, Jefferson and Leavenworth counties and will administer the new program in those three counties.
The money will be loaned at an interest rate of 4.5 percent and may be used to buy feed, seed, fertilizer and livestock. The money also may be used to meet interest and depreciation payments of current debt for real estate and personal property, and other essential operating and living costs, Altenhofen said.
Farmers who think they may qualify should make application at the local FmHA between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Altenhofen urges farmers to file their applications as early as possible to speed processing and loan check delivery.