Emergency Agriculture Loans Available in 27 Fla. Counties

By: Bryan Anderson
By: Bryan Anderson

Marianna, FL- "It's been really tough early. We had problems with the cotton coming up because of the drought and the really hot temperatures," said Jackson County farmer Dexter Gilbert.

Gilbert said he's lost up to 30% of his cotton crops because of the recent drought.

"It's huge, you know, because of having to replant, the input costs, fuel. We only plan to plant one time, and we planted two times, three times. (It cost) a couple hundred thousand dollars," said Gilbert.

Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated Jackson and 26 other counties disaster areas. The declaration gives farmers the option to apply for emergency loans, but Gilbert said loans won't do anything.

"We really need some help, you know, some money that we don't have to repay. I mean, a loan is not going to help the situation at all. Most of us have loans, just get one loan to pay another, you're still repeating the same process," said Gilbert.

Farmers are eligible for up to a $500,000 loan, but the interest rate is 3.75%, and the U.S.D.A. can require as much as 150% in collateral.

"We're feeding America, from what we're doing, the production, agriculture farmers, and we're not receiving anything. You know, this (emergency loan program) is just something just to pacify to say that 'Ok we do have programs out,' and it's not helping," said Gilbert.

A Marianna Farm Service Agency loan officer that News Channel 7 spoke with on Tuesday said in her 9 years at the office, very few farmers have ever applied for these emergency loans.

The loan application deadline is next March.

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