This past Spring saw some unseasonably cold temperatures here in Connecticut, leading to a late freeze on May 18th.
Today, Governor Ned Lamont announced that farmers across the state can now apply for federal loans to make up for any crop losses due to those frozen temperatures. These loans are provided by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Agency provides several types of loans to farmers across the country, dozens of which are issued to Connecticut farmers every year. The low-interest loans can be used to support new farms, purchase livestock, seeds, and equipment, and expand existing farms. In addition to these operation loans, the FSA also provides emergency loans to farms affected by natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, and, in this case, an unseasonable deep freeze.
“This abnormally cold weather event that occurred this spring caused incredible amounts of damage to crops of all kinds at farms in Connecticut, and in the following days farmers from across the state contacted my office expressing concerns about how these production losses will impact their businesses,” said Gov. Lamont in a statement.
Emergency loans are offered to farmers who meet specific eligibility requirements.
Additionally, Connecticut’s Agriculture Commissioner, Bryan Hurlburt is urging farmers who lost specific assets to apply for other TAS programs. Farmers who lost “eligible trees, bushes, and vines” can apply for the Tree Assistance Program, while farmers who lost honeybee colonies can apply to the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program. The application periods for both of these loan programs have been extended.
Connecticut is no stranger to the FSA’s emergency loan program. Last summer, farmers in all eight counties were deemed eligible to apply for these loans when the state suffered severe drought conditions. Currently, the state is suffering from abnormal dryness, a precursor to drought conditions.
Climate scientists have warned that extreme weather swings are likely to become more common. Longer periods of drought (or more severe drought during the normal season) can cause crop loss, increase fire risk, and lead to increased flooding during heavier rain events.
For now, farmers who wish to apply for an emergency FSA loan for damages suffered during May’s deep freeze have eight months to do so. They can do so at a local FSA office.