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.
TO APPLY 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.
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