The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 19 counties in Florida as primary natural disaster areas due to losses and damages caused by Hurricane Irma that occurred from Sept. 9 through 12.

The declaration includes Lake, Sumter and Marion counties.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Oct. 13, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for FSA’s emergency (EM) loans, if provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; the Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA service centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at