PITTSBURG — Farmers in Crawford County and surrounding Kansas counties may qualify for federal assistance because of excessive rain and severe weather over the past year, the US Department of Agriculture announced last week.

Pittsburg has received 55.13 inches of precipitation so far this year and Girard has received 61.82, according to Cory Rothstein, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Springfield. These numbers are not only both already higher than the annual average between 1981 and 2010 of 46.21 inches, according to information from the University of Kansas, but are the highest on record for both Pittsburg and Girard, going back to 1948 for Pittsburg and 1957 in Girard, Rothstein said.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated 24 Kansas counties as primary natural disaster areas Sept. 18, according to a USDA press release. Producers in primary natural disaster area counties including Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Cherokee, Labette, Linn, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson counties who suffered losses due to excessive rain, flooding, high winds, tornadoes, hail and lightning that occurred since Oct. 15, 2018, may be eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

“This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters,” according to the release. “Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.”

Producers in contiguous Kansas counties, including Crawford County, are also eligible to apply for emergency loans.

“On a practical level there’s very little difference between a county being being primary or being contiguous,” said Jason Love, farm loan manager for the Crawford County FSA office, “either one can apply for those loans.”

To be eligible for emergency loans, farmers must own or operate land within one of the primary or contiguous counties, and have “suffered at least a 30 percent loss in crop production or a physical loss to livestock, livestock products, real estate, or chattel property,” according to an FSA fact sheet about the loans. Eligible applicants must be “established family farm operators and have sufficient farming or ranching experience,” and must be US citizens or permanent residents and have an acceptable credit history.

The deadline to apply for the recently announced emergency loans is May 6, 2020. FSA will review loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

Those with an interest in applying for an emergency loan who think they may qualify are encouraged to contact the Crawford County FSA office at (620) 724-6227.