Governor Mike Beebe requested a statewide disaster declaration Tuesday because of the lack of rainfall. The disaster status would allow qualified farmers to receive emergency loans.
Cattle at Bruce Holland’s Greenwood farm like to eat. Drought conditions this year means their hay is in short supply. Farmers are struggling. “We usually expect to have a lot of ran in April and May and that just wasn't there this year,” said Holland, a cattleman.
The U.S. Drought Monitor puts about 88-percent of the state at severe drought status and 36-percent in extreme drought. “It could be one of the worst we’ve ever seen,” said Jesse Bocksnick, Sebastian County Extension Agent.
Gov. Beebe asked the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for a disaster designation in all 75 Arkansas counties. “We’ve had a few spotty showers this week. The likelihood is it’s not gonna get better for a while,” said Gov. Beebe.
The disaster declaration would allow struggling farmers to apply for emergency loans. “That would be a life saver for some of them,” said Bocksnick.
The application process takes months. Farmers say it could take them a while to see the benefits. “It’s not just the cattlemen that are affected. It’s all of agriculture,” said Holland.
Farmers say showers will not solve the problem. They need weeks of rainfall to make up for the shortage.
Farmers and ranchers with questions about the request or the loans it may provide should contact their local Farm Service Agency office.