WASHINGTON - The federal government has declared drought disaster designation for five Idaho counties.
The counties are Bannock, Bear Lake, Cassia, Fremont and Oneida counties. "Contingent" counties, or those bordering the five primary counties, also receive disaster designations.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it is helping farmers and ranchers with a variety of tools.
Special provisions have been made to the Farm Service Agency emergency loan program and conservation reserve program as well the federal crop insurance program. These changes will provide greater flexibility for livestock producers facing forage and feed shortages as a result of drought, the USDA said.
In the past, emergency loan eligibility was determined after the production cycle. Producers will no longer have to wait until the end of the production cycle to obtain a loan. This change is intended to support producers who need help to offset high production costs.
"Adding more flexibility to current program requirements will make much needed assistance more readily available to producers affected by disaster," said Dick Rush, Idaho state executive director, in a USDA news release. "These changes in particular should benefit livestock producers who are facing higher feed costs or are at risk of liquidating their herd due to the drought. These are interim measures until Congress passes more comprehensive disaster legislation."
More information on the aid Idaho farmers and ranchers can receive can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/id