March 10, 2005

Drought Declaration Extended To Six Idaho Counties

Owyhee, Twin Falls, Cassia, Bear Lake, Bonneville, Caribou Counties eligible

Washington, DC - Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo and Congressmen Mike Simpson and C.L. â??Butchâ?? Otter announced today that agricultural producers in six Idaho counties will be eligible for low-interest loans through a contiguous drought declaration made because of declarations in neighboring Wyoming and Nevada. Under federal law, producers in the Idaho counties will also be eligible for low-interest loans similar to their neighbors."Drought effects continue to deal a huge blow to Idaho's farmers, ranchers, and communities," Senator Craig said. "Like the wildfires which have plagued our state, drought knows no boundaries and it's affects are extremely damaging to many. Although USDA's announcement is a beneficial tool for producers in these counties, developing long-term solutions is critical. Senator Crapo and I and the Idaho delegation will continue to work with the USDA to identify these opportunities."â??Continuing drought conditions during 2003, following multiple years of extremely low precipitation, have created situations of hardship in many areas in Idaho. USDA's announcement today for economic help in the form of low interest loans for certain counties is appropriate and needed,â?? Senator Crapo said. â??Similar dry situations which exist in other areas of Idaho need our continued attention and efforts to provide assistance for those experiencing drought.â?? "This announcement is great news for the farmers and ranchers of eastern Idaho who are in desperate need of assistance due to prolonged drought. I'm thankful that USDA is offering low interest loans that will help farmers and ranchers cope with cost of the extremely dry conditions. Without such help, more and more of the members of our agriculture community will be forced to look to other livelihoods," said Congressman Simpson."I applaud the Agriculture Department for recognizing the dire need, and acting to help these producers stay afloat,â?? said Congressman Otter. Drought is a hard fact of life in the West. But these farmers and ranchers are a tough bunch, and they're not asking for a handout. All they want is a chance to keep doing what they do better than anyone else in the world -- put food on America's tables. Programs like this provide that chance, and Iâ??m proud to join my colleagues in supporting them.The U.S. Department of Agriculture said drought and insect infestation brought the disaster declarations in Nevada and Wyoming, which made some Idaho producers eligible. All applications are subject to eligibility requirements being met.-30-