September 19, 2023

Department of Agriculture offers $40 million for disaster relief – Oregon Capital Chronicle

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is offering farmers loans of up to $150,000 that can be forgiven to help the agriculture industry recover from last year’s natural disasters.

The $40 million program, approved by the Legislative Assembly in December, applies to farm income throughout the year — not just in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. In 2021, the state suffered hundreds of wildfires starting in May, including the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon that burned more than 340,000 acres.

Farmers were also hit by a deep freeze in February and a “heat dome” in the summer when temperatures hit a statewide high of 119 in Jefferson County. The Legislature designated $5 million from the program for farmers in this county.

Agriculture Department officials did not know how many owners would be eligible. According to the department, Oregon had more than 37,000 farms and ranches as of last December.

Many of them have been affected by the persistent drought. But state officials said the program would not apply to income lost due to dry conditions.

The loans would be forgivable to homeowners who did not receive federal disaster relief money and are limited to $150,000. Applicants who meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s definition of a historically underserved producer or earn less than $350,000 in gross income per year are the only ones eligible for the highest amounts, officials said. of State.

Homeowners can apply for money through four banks that lend to the agricultural industry:

  • Umpqua Bank
  • Bank Colombia
  • Bank of Eastern Oregon
  • Old West Federal Credit Union

Agriculture Ministry officials said they could do a second round of funding, depending on what’s left after the first round.