Farmers and ranchers in the West's worst-hit drought regions will receive an additional $21 million to help them save water and soil despite the long dry spell.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the aid Monday. The assistance will go to areas of the West that are rated in the highest categories of drought. That includes parts of California, Kansas, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Utah.
The aid is meant to help farms and grazing pastures cope with drought through better irrigation, cover crops and other measures.
The money comes from the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service. The conservation agency says it has spent more than $1.5 billion on water-conservation measures for agriculture since 2012.
Non-farm business in Idaho can also get help. The U.S. Small Business Administration announced Friday that several counties can apply for low-interest federal disaster loans.
The counties include Ada, Blaine, Boise, Camas, Custer, Elmore, Gooding, Owyhee, and Twin Falls.
The Economic Injury Disaster Loans loans come because of reduced revenues caused by the drought in Elmore County that began March 15. Tanya Garfield is Director of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center ‑ West. She says the loans are based on the financial impact of the disaster, not on property damage.
Non-farm loans of up to $2 million are available.
“These loans have an interest rate of 4 percent for businesses and 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years, and are available to small businesses and most private nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship,” says Garfield.
Farm and ranch businesses are not eligible for the SBA loans.
Businesses have until January 13, 2016 to apply for the loans.
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