Malheur County farmers, ranchers to receive federal assistance for snow storm damage

Farmers and ranchers in Malheur County whose crops were crushed or whose livestock was lost in winter storms may now apply for emergency loans through the US Department of Agriculture.

The department’s Farm Service Agency announced Thursday it would offer assistance to those in Malheur County, as well as several neighboring counties.

Those in Baker, Grant and Harney counties in Oregon, Canyon, Owyhee, Payette and Washington counties in Idaho, and Humboldt County in Nevada may also apply for the loans.

The announcement comes a month after Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency due to the dangerous levels of snow in eastern Oregon.

Some communities were cut off from from emergency services, and accumulations of up to 50 inches caused dozens of onion storage sheds in eastern Oregon and Idaho to collapse.

The Associated Press reported that this caused as much as $100 million in damage and drove up onion prices.

Brown, along with Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, asked the USDA to offer assistance to those affected by the storm.

The loans are available to farmers and ranchers who need to repair or replace physical property that was damaged or destroyed in the storm. Examples include farm buildings, equipment, livestock, perennial crops, fruit and nut bearing trees, and harvested or stored crops and hay.

To apply for the loans, farmers and ranchers should contact their local Farm Service Agency office. Contact information is available on the USDA’s website.