Federal loans available to offset drought losses

Small businesses across Western Colorado are eligible for low-interest federal disaster loans to help offset losses related to drought.

Mesa County is among 14 Colorado counties included in a primary area declared an agricultural disaster area because of a drought conditions.

Delta, Garfield, Montrose and Rio Blanco also are included in that area. Another 24 neighboring Colorado counties are included in the designation, as are a total of nine more counties in New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Alfred Judd, director of a regional U.S. Small Business Administration disaster field operations center in California, announced the availability of economy 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,” Judd said.

Nonfarm businesses; agricultural cooperatives; small businesses engaged in aquaculture; 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 March 3, 2014.

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 appy 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,” Judd said. “These loans have an interest rate of 4 percent for businesses and 2.875 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 July 3.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching aren’t eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises  should contact the Farm Service Agency about Department of Agriculture assistance made available by the disaster declaration. In the case of droughts, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance, however.