The U.S. Small Business Administration has extended its disaster loan program to six more Georgia counties affected by drought. The loans target farm-related and other entities not covered by aid from the Department of Agriculture.
More than half of U.S. counties now are classified by the federal government as natural disaster areas mostly because of the drought. The U.S. Agriculture Department on Wednesday added 218 counties in a dozen states as disaster areas, including six in Georgia.
Under new U.S. Department of Agriculture rules announced Thursday, all but a handful of Georgia counties are considered disaster areas because of ongoing drought. The department is trying to shorten the time between a disaster and making aid available to farmers.
Georgia home and business owners still can rely on federal disaster assistance. That's the word from Georgia emergency management officials as FEMA says, it's suspending some disaster payments in the wake of Hurricane Irene. A GEMA spokesman says, the federal agency is delaying payments for a certain types of completed, government-backed disaster repair going back years.
Every county in Georgia could qualify for disaster assistance from the federal government. The designation comes on the heels of several very warm, dry months. Farm operators throughout the state are eligible to be considered for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency, and help from the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program.