The U.S. Department of Agriculture has granted disaster-area status to eight counties in central and eastern Idaho, clearing the way for farms to receive low-interest loans for operating costs.
Crops were damaged across much of southern and eastern Idaho when a series of ill-timed storms caused grain to sprout before it could be harvested and some crops to mold in the fields.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the declaration for Bonneville, Jefferson, Bingham, Clark, Minidoka, Blaine, Cassia and Power counties on Thursday. Fourteen other neighboring counties have already received disaster status.
"Some people's grain couldn't even go for cattle feed because it had mold in it," Bonneville County Farm Bureau President Stephanie Mickelsen told the Post Register. "So this disaster declaration is going to give farmers that may not have gotten anything for their wheat crop the ability to farm another year."
The largest loan available will be $500,000. In order to qualify, a farmer's crop yield will have to be more than 30 percent lower than during normal operation, said Aaron Johnson, the acting state executive director of the Farm Services Agency in Idaho.
Kirt Schwieder, who raises wheat and barley in Bonneville and Jefferson counties, said his grain crop was a total disaster because of the late-summer rains. About 90 percent of his grain sprouted before it could be cut.
"We're in a position where we're going to take a pretty good loss on the grain this year, so anything helps," he said.