For Immediate Release - September 14, 2000
Anastasia Burton (406) 444-3111
(Helena)-Governor Marc Racicot today officially requested a statewide Natural Disaster Determination because of drought. The Governorís request, if approved by U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, will trigger financial assistance under the Farm Service Agency Emergency Loan Program. Already, the state has submitted 39 county requests for a Natural Disaster Determination (NDD). The governorís latest request adds the remaining counties for consideration.
Lt. Governor Judy Martz, chairman of the Governorís Drought Advisory Committee, presented the rationale for submitting a statewide request for an NDD, "We are facing perhaps, the most severe drought conditions in 20 years. This year all agricultural sectors have been hard-hit by drought conditions including dryland farming, stock-growing, irrigated agriculture, and the many businesses that service agriculture. Other businesses across the state that serve localities and tourism have been hurt as well."
"Because drought conditions have occurred in all areas of the state at one time or another this year, we are making this request to ensure that all eligible agricultural producers or business owners affected by the drought in the remaining 17 counties can get the assistance they need."
Upon receiving approval from Secretary Glickman, people in all counties of the state will have the opportunity to be eligible for disaster assistance programs. This measure will also help USDA expedite the process for assessing the impacts of drought in all Montana counties and forwarding its findings to the Secretary of Agriculture for his determination.
When the Secretary determines that conditions in a county warrant an NDD, qualified agricultural producers will be eligible for important tax deferments on capital gains for up to two years, and may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans. Payments on existing loans with the Farm Service Agency may be deferred in cases of hardship due to drought.