Disaster loans available to offset losses due to freezing

Small businesses in Mesa County and a total of nine other Western Colorado and Eastern Utah counties are eligible for low-interest federal disaster loans to help offset losses related to freezing weather that damaged crops in the region.

Mesa County as well as Delta and Montrose counties are in the primary agricultural disaster area.

Garfield, Gunnison, Ouray, Pitkin and San Miguel counties in Colorado as well as Grand and San Juan counties in Utah also are included in the designation for freezing weather that occurred between Dec. 4, 2013 and May 15, 2014.

Tanya Garfield, director of a regional U.S. Small Business Administration disaster field operations center, announced the availability of the economic injury disaster loans.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” Garfield said.

Nonfarm businesses, agricultural cooperatives and most private, nonprofit organizations could qualify for loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

The application deadline is June 8, 2015.

Disaster loan information and application forms are available by calling (800) 659-2955 or logging on to www.sba.gov/services.disasterassistance. Loan applicants may apply online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

“Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage,” Garfield said. “These loans have an interest rate of 4 percent for businesses and 2.625 percent for private, nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years and are available to small businesses and most private nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without  hardship.”

By law, the SBA makes economic injury disaster loans available when the secretary of agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. Tom Vilsack made that designation on Oct. 8.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching aren’t eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Instead, agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Service Agency about Department of Agriculture assistance.