Drought disaster loan filing deadline set for Sept. 24

Wednesday, September 3, 2008
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com These soybeans were photographed in a field north of Jackson in 2007.

Small-business owners affected by the drought that occurred from April 1, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2007, have until Sept. 24 to file their applications for federal economic inquiry disaster loans.

Eligible businesses may qualify for the Small Business Administration loans of up to $1.5 million. Available at a 4 percent interest rate, these loans have terms up to 30 years.

The program is open to farm- and non-farm-related small-business concerns and small agricultural cooperatives that suffered financial losses as a result of the drought. Farmers are not eligible, but nurseries may apply for the loans.

Businesses in 13 counties are eligible to receive aid. The counties are Cape Girardeau, Jefferson, Lewis, Lincoln, Marion, Mississippi, Perry, Pike, Ralls, Saint Charles, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve and Scott.

On Feb. 28, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer issued a declaration for disaster in drought-stricken areas of Illinois. Missouri's counties were eligible for assistance because they are near one or more primary counties in Illinois.

"The Small Business Administration recognizes that disasters do not usually stop at the county or state lines," said Frank Skaggs, director of the Small Business Administration's Field Operations Center East. "For that reason, counties adjacent to primary counties named in the declaration are included."

From March to August 2007, Southeast Missouri's rainfall was 4 to 10 inches below normal, including 12.52 inches below normal in Cape Girardeau County, according to figures from the University of Missouri Extension. Starting in June, Southeast Missouri dried up, leading to an August that was the driest on record, with only 0.01 inches of rainfall recorded at the National Weather Service's Cape Girardeau observation point, the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.

However, September reversed the trend when 4.57 inches of rain fell at the weather service observation station. The normal rainfall for September is 3.3 inches.

Still, Southeast Missouri counties reported anywhere from a 25 to 90 percent loss on a variety of crops during that time period.

Business owners who have yet to file for the loans should call 800-659-2955 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Business loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Rd., Fort Worth, Texas,- 76155.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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