Bordering Illinois is a benefit for Grant and Lafayette counties.
The U.S. Small Business Administration announced in early August that federal economic injury disaster loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private non-profit organizations of all sizes located in Grant and Lafayette counties as a result of the drought that began on July 24.
“These counties are eligible because they are contiguous to one or more primary counties in Illinois,” said Frank Skaggs, director of the Small Business Administration’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta. “The Small Business Administration recognizes that disasters do not usually stop at county or state lines. For that reason, counties adjacent to primary counties named in the declaration are included.
“When the Secretary of Agriculture issues a disaster declaration to help farmers recover from damages and losses to crops, the Small Business Administration issues a declaration to assist eligible entities affected by the same disaster.”
Under this declaration, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available to eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster. SBA cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, farmers, or ranchers, except aquaculture enterprises. Nurseries are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans for losses caused by drought conditions.
Loan amounts can be up to $2 million for up to 30 years, with interest rates of 3 percent for nonprofit organizations and 4 percent for small businesses.
The SBA determines eligibility based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources. The agency sets loan amounts and terms based on each applicant’s financial condition. These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred.
The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure website, https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center, 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Loan applications can be downloaded from the SBA’s website, www.sba.gov. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
Emergency grazing OK’d on CRP, Grant CREP lands: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Wisconsin Farm Service Agency has authorized emergency grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program acres for Grant, Lafayette and Iowa counties.
Grazing is authorized according to an amended conservation plan obtained from NRCS and approved by FSA.
“Eligible producers who are interested in emergency grazing of CRP must request approval from FSA before grazing eligible acreage,” said Wisconsin FSA executive director Brad Pfaff. “It is also important for producers to obtain a modified conservation plan from the Natural Resources Conservation Service that includes grazing requirements,” he said.
Upon approval of emergency grazing, producers must leave at least 25 percent of CRP acres for wildlife or graze at 75 percent of the normal stocking rate. There will be a 10 percent CRP payment reduction on acres actually grazed.
To take advantage of the emergency grazing provisions, authorized producers can use the CRP acreage for their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage for the purpose of grazing.
New federal guidelines for using conservation acreage during the drought mean that farmers in 42 Wisconsin counties, including Grant County, may now hay or graze land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, or CREP.
Farmers must contact their local Farm Service Agency office and their county conservationist before haying or grazing on either CREP or CRP land. Landowners with CREP perpetual easements also need written authorization from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Haying can continue through Aug. 31, and grazing through Sept. 30. Landowners may keep hay for their own use and graze their own livestock, or they may sell, donate or barter hay and grazing rights.
Counties with newly open CREP acres are Buffalo, Calumet, Chippewa, Clark, Columbia, Crawford, Dodge, Dunn, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green Lake, Jackson, Jefferson, Juneau, Kewaunee, La Crosse, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marquette, Monroe, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Pepin, Portage, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Shawano, Sheboygan, Taylor, Vernon, Walworth, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago and Wood. Eligible CREP land in Dane, Green, Iowa and Lafayette counties remains open for haying and grazing.
CREP is a subset of the Conservation Reserve Program. CREP places land along lakes or streams into conservation cover, such as grasses or trees, to prevent runoff from adjacent crop lands. CRP is strictly a federal effort, but CREP combines the efforts of county land and water departments, the USDA, and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
The USDA announced in July that CRP land in areas classified D-2 through D-4 — severe, extreme and exceptional drought — on the Drought Monitor could be hayed or grazed if it was planted in grasses and legumes. While CRP lands that met these criteria existed in other Wisconsin counties, CREP lands meeting the criteria were present in only four counties.
CRP lands in areas that have been classified D-0 and D-1 (abnormally dry and moderate drought) since July 19 now are open for haying and grazing. The USDA has also expanded the type of CRP lands that can be hayed or grazed to include grassed waterways and wetland. Those expanded criteria open much more acreage, including CREP acreage, for haying and grazing.
The new criteria, along with the ability to sell or barter hay and grazing rights, will help move feed to livestock farmers in areas so dry that they cannot take advantage of the temporary opening of their own CRP or CREP lands.