Farmers looking at crops during heat wave
A “heat dome” last summer burned crops in Oregon. (Photo Oregon Department of Agriculture)

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 Legislature in December, applies to farm revenue throughout the year – not just in the immediate wake of a disaster. In 2021, the state endured hundreds of wildfires starting in May, including the Bootleg fire in southern Oregon which burned more than 340,000 acres. 

Farmers also were hit with a deep freeze in February and a “heat dome” in the summer when temperatures soared to a statewide high of 119 in Jefferson County. The Legislature designated $5 million of the program for that county’s farmers.

Visit the ODAP webpage for an example application

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

Many of them have been hit by the continuing drought. But state officials said the program would not apply to income lost because of dry conditions. 

The loans would be forgivable to owners who have not received 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 a year are the only ones who would qualify for the highest amounts, state officials said.

Owners can apply for the money through four banks that lend to the agriculture industry:

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

Agriculture Department officials said they may conduct a second round of funding, depending on what remains after the first round.

Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years. She has won state, regional and national awards, including a National Headliner Award for a long-term care facility story and a top award from the National Association of Health Care Journalists for an investigation into government failures to protect the public from repeated salmonella outbreaks. She loves to cook and entertain, speaks French and is learning Portuguese.