Farm Service Agency “emergency loans” plan may not be enough to help Delta

Focused on Mississippi

A majority of the Delta is finally flood free, but cleaning up properties and fields will be very costly for farmers. In response the USDA and Farm Service Agency is reaching out with a new plan of assistance.

It’s up in the air with how much of a benefit this would be to Delta farmers. The farm service agency is offering emergency loan programs…but the farmers I talked to say when you already have a massive debt, another loan to pay may not be the answer. 

Once a big lake is now a giant dust bowl and farmers use to prospering in acres of green crop fields still feel the burden of the backwater flood. 

“It looks like a desert,” Clay Adcock of Holly Bluff said. “There’s nothing there just left over trash from the water, but not much green just bare ground” 

In response the Mississippi State Executive Director of the Farm Agency requested a primary county disaster designation for 45 counties including Yazoo, Sharkey, Issaquena, and Warren County to make up for production loss. 

“FSA is considered a loaner of last resort,” Adcock explained. “If you lost money this year and can’t get money from your typical institutions they step in and will loan you a low interest loan.”

But Delta farmers like Clay Adcock say the cost and debt of the backwater flood has already left their accounts sunk. Making another loan to eventually pay off unhelpful. 

“Land cost, that’s going to come whether you make a crop on it or not,” Adcock said. “Also you have equipment; well most of our equipment is so costly you finance it over 5-7 years. Annual notes will come whether I made a crop or not.”

Adcock did acknowledge these loan programs could certainly help some households temporarily make ends meet. But again stressed the biggest assistance Washington can send the Delta is finishing the pumps project. 

“The Pumps are going to cost around $400 Million,” Adcock stated. “Well since the 2008 veto there’s been $370 Million in crop losses not including this year. So we could have paid for the pumps three or four times and that’s just another example of the government looking forward.”

Those who wish to apply for the FSA emergency loans have eight months to see if they qualify. To find out you can contact your county FSA offices. 

We reached out to the Mississippi Farm Service Agency for more details on these loan plans but have not heard back. It’s also important to note due to timing of the 2019 backwater flood, farmers already had to pay for their acres of rented farm land, but were unable to grow anything.  

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