Disaster loans available to agricultural businesses hurt by drought

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture has declared several Pennsylvania counties — Cameron

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture has declared several Pennsylvania counties — Cameron

Federal agencies are making loans available to agricultural business hurt by drought conditions.

It’s been a dry summer in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and last week the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture declared several counties in north-central Pennsylvania — Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Lycoming, Potter, and Union — disaster areas.

The designation triggers the availability of funds.

“They’re really a disaster loan that’s designed for businesses to bounce back at a time of disaster,” said Richard Daigle, a spokesman for the Small Business Administration.

Farmers can turn to the Farm Service Agency, and agriculture-related operations to the SBA. Daigle said the SBA serves, for example, tractor dealers, not drivers. 

The 30-year, low-interest SBA loans are for up to $2 million and can be used to pay debts, meet payroll, or cover other bills. The application deadline is May 22.

Other areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey continue to be under drought watch, but have not received a disaster declaration. 

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