Skagit County farms

Skagit County farms affected by drought are eligible to receive federal loans.

Skagit County farmers may be eligible for emergency loans to help them recover from losses resulting from this summer’s drought.

The emergency loans are available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency office in Mount Vernon.

The loan program began after the USDA designated four counties in the state, including Skagit County, as natural disaster areas due to drought, according to news release from Skagit County.

The drought impacted these counties for eight or more consecutive weeks during the growing season, the release states.

Skagit County was under moderate to severe drought this summer, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Some farmers were left without water to irrigate crops because of rules restricting water use during low flows in the Skagit River.

Washington State University Extension Director Don McMoran said in an email a lack of rain impacted some fields this summer, but overall it was a good year for farmers. He said many growers in Skagit County are used to drought and have bought irrigation equipment to adjust.

To qualify for emergency loans, Skagit County farmers and ranchers must have suffered at least a 30% loss in crop production or livestock, have acceptable credit history, can provide collateral, and have the ability to repay a loan, among other requirements, according to a USDA fact sheet.

The loans may be used to replace property and equipment, refinance debt, reorganize farming operations, and other needs.

The deadline to apply for emergency loans is April 29.

For more information, call the USDA Farm Service Agency Mount Vernon office at 360-428-7684.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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