From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
I wanted to let farmers and agribusinesses know about some recent Small Business Administration loans for businesses impacted by the 2011 drought, and give you a legislative update on disaster response proposals we have submitted.
The SBA made available economic injury disaster loans to small businesses, small agricultural coopera-tives and small aquaculture businesses.
The loans can be up to $2 million, with interest rates of 3 to 4 percent.
Loans are available for the following counties: Alamance, Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Bladen, Camden, Carteret, Caswell, Chatham, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Dur-ham, Dare, Davidson, Forsyth, Franklin, Gates, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Martin, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pender, Person, Pitt, Ran-dolph, Richmond, Robeson, Rockingham, Sampson, Scotland, Stokes, Tyrrell, Vance, Wake, Warren, Washington, Wayne and Wilson.
You can find out more by calling the SBA at 800-659-2955 or by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org. Loan applications must be returned to the SBA by Oct. 9.
In early February, the state Senate's Committee on Emergency Preparedness put forth some recommendations on response to natural disasters that could benefit farmers.
This is a significant development. Last year's tornadoes, drought and hurricane all raised issues of emergency preparedness and response with respect to farming.
For about the past six months, my staff and I have been talking with legislative leaders and emergency management officials about the need for changes that, in the future, could help farmers mitigate storm damage or recover from storms more quickly.
The Senate committee's recommendations give us reason to believe that legislators are hearing the needs of farmers.
Some of the things we're trying to address include setting up agricultural emergency response teams; making it easier for farmers to harvest and move crops before a hurricane hits; and speeding up the removal of debris on farms following a storm.
There's still a lot of work that needs to be done, but this recent action was an important step in the process.