The USDA has now designated nine West Texas counties as drought disaster areas. That means farmers in those areas are eligible for federal loans.
U.S. Congressman for District 19 Randy Neugebauer made the announcement on Wednesday and on Thursday he told NewsChannel 11 this is money many South Plains farmers are anxiously awaiting. "Many of them have had several bad crop years in a row and so what this will allow them to do is get financing for next year's crop and they are low interest loans so it will help them make that transition," says Shawn Wade with Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.
Officials with Plains Cotton Growers describe the drought we're in with one word: persistent. About half of the entire South Plains cotton crop relies on rainfall for irrigation. And many farmers who relied on rain alone last year were unable to produce a profitable crop.
"It'll help them bridge the gap on expenses that they incurred in 2003 and didn't have a crop produced because of drought conditions that we had to help pay for those expenses," says Neugebauer. Officials stress this is a loan, farmers will have to repay the money. Farmers who want to apply for these emergency loans should contact their local farm service agency to see if they qualify.
The 9 West Texas counties named as disaster areas are Bailey, Hale, Cochran, Hockley, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Terry, and Yoakum.