Area farmers who lost income because of the 1989 drought may qualify for assistance through the local branch office of a federal agency.
The assistance comes under a newly created federal program and is available in those counties recently declared disaster areas because of the drought.
Douglas County was among those named disaster areas by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Clayton Yeutter, who made the designations early this month. They were based on crop losses caused by drought and other adverse weather.
Gov. Mike Hayden announced the designations Jan. 4.
Dean Altenhofen, supervisor of the Douglas County Farmer's Home Administration office, said in a release Monday that 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.
TO QUALIFY, farmers' incomes will be averaged for the past five years and that figure will be compared to 1989 incomes, he 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, Altenhofen said.
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 easily 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, he said.
THE MONEY will be loaned at an interest rate of 4.5 percent and may be used to buy feed, seed, fertilizer, livestock. The money also may be used to meet interest and depreciation payments on current debt for real estate and personal property, and other essential operating and living costs, he said.
Applications for the assistance will be taken until Sept. 4, he said.
Only those farmers who suffered losses due to the drought that occurred last year between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1 can qualify for the relief program, Altenhofen said.
He said he did not know why the federal government, which created the program, used the Nov. 1 qualifying date, but said that area crops should have been harvested by then and that the drought effects no longer could damage crops.
FARMERS who think they may qualify for the assistance program should make their applications at the local FmHA between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Altenhofen urged farmers to file their applications as early as possible to speed processing and loan check delivery.
Although the disaster designations were made Jan. 4, the local FmHA office did not receive official information about the assistance program from Washington, D.C., until Friday. Information explaining the program was released Monday.
Late last year, Altenhofen's office and other local agriculture agencies submitted data to state and federal agriculture officials concerning the effects of the drought. The information included statistics on poor area crop yields because of the drought and other weather conditions.
RAINFALL last year left the area about 4 inches short of normal rainfall and no rain fell for more than 30 days during October and November. Rainfall in 1988 left the area 13 inches shy of expected rainfall for the year, according to records at the Kansas University Weather Service.
Kansas counties that have been designated disaster areas because of the drought are Atchison, Barber, Barton, Brown, Butler, Cheyenne, Clark, Clay, Cloud, Comanche, Decatur, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Edwards, Ellis, Ellsworth, Ford, Geary, Graham, Gray, Harper, Harvey and Haskell.
Also, Hodgeman, Jackson, Jefferson, Jewell, Kingman, Marion, Marshall, Meade, Mitchell, Morris, Morton, Nemaha, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Ottawa, Pawnee, Phillips, Pottawatomie and Pratt.
Also, Rawlins, Reno, Republic, Rice, Riley, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Saline, Sedgwick, Seward, Shawnee, Sheridan, Smith, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Trego, Wabaunsee and Washington.
In addition, the following counties were designated disaster areas because of excessive rainfall, hail, high winds and flooding: Chautauqua, Lincoln, Mitchell, Montgomery, Rawlins and Sherman.