USDA offers low interest loans for farmers affected by drought

PAWNEE, Okla. - The USDA recently declared 56 Oklahoma counties to be primary natural disaster areas due to the losses many farmers will experience as a result of the state's severe drought.

The declaration will make qualifying farmers eligible for interest loans as low as 2.25 percent. Farm Service Agency Loan Program Chief Phil Estes says many farmers will have to make some big decisions rather quickly.

"With the severity of the drought we're going to see more people coming in the doors than we have been," he said. "We're seeing a lot of people sell their livestock off, their hay isn't making what it should. The fall crop is going to be considerably less than normal."

Federal lawmakers are also pushing to renew the Farm Bill , which would provide aid to farmers who suffered severe losses as a result of the drought.

Pawnee County farmer Bobby Bryant says the back-to-back drought will really test some farmers.

"I'm getting ready to get rid of some cattle, I don't have much choice," he said. Bryant says he hoped to keep some of his cattle, but was afraid the growing algae in his pond would end up killing them -- not to mention feed costs.

He's optimistic about next year's crop, but says "if you have three years of this it can be devastating."

For more information on the loans and other programs available contact your local FSA office .

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