GREAT FALLS- The weather in Montana is well known for being unpredictable.
This past summer, weather on the Hi-Line was bad enough to the extent that several Montana counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas by the USDA.
Damage varied from place to place but they are accepting applications from many areas. Liberty County was the primary county affected, but Choteau, Hill, Pondera and Toole counties are all eligible as well to apply for emergency loans.
The program is overseen by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), which aims to help get credit to producers that need it after events like the weather experience this summer.
"These are long-term programs, ones that FSA feels very strongly about," Montana FSA executive director Maureen Wicks said. "And you might say, why? Why do we want to have these? And the reason is that FSA wants to get the much-needed emergency credit to our producers. Hail, high winds, a small tornado went through. No farmer or rancher wants to see those things come up."
The emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs, such as replacing equipment and livestock, reorganizing a farm operation or refinancing certain debts. FSA will review the loans on a case-by-case basis.
"We provide that security net that allows our producers to come in and say, This came out of nowhere. We weren't prepared for it. Here in Montana, we take a special interest because agriculture is our number one industry. We strongly support it. We got the tagline, you know, we want to keep farmers farming, keep ranchers ranching."
There are also 11 counties in southeastern Montana that were affected by hail and high winds that are eligible for loans as well: Carbon, Powder River, Yellowstone, Prairie, Treasure, Dawson, Wibaux, Big Horn, Richland, Rosebud, and Fallon.
The application deadline is May 15, 2023; click here for more information.