Although suffering one of the county's worst droughts, local farmersare not rushing to cash in on federal programs, says Richard Snader,the county executive director of the Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service.
Snader says only a couple of farmers have asked him to assess their crops -- the first step in receiving federal aid.
Snader estimates the countywide damage to corn crops at 40 percent. He says soybean crops are still questionable. He visited one 10-acre field last week where only four plants survived. However, if the county gets several more rains like last week, a second planting of soybeans may be "pretty good," Snader says.
Meanwhile, Snader says his department has been training for a livestock feed program he believes will soon be put into effect. The program would allow livestock farmers to get a 50 percent break on the cost of feed if they can showa 40 percent loss in their feed crops.
In addition, farmers may now apply to make hay on land they had agreed previously to set aside.Although few have, Snader expects more to do so if the rainfall increases soon.
There also have been few takers for a program run by the Farmers Home Administration. After the federal government declaredHoward and 17 other Maryland counties eligible for drought disaster aid on Aug. 12, affected farmers became eligible for 4.5 percent interest FmHA loans of up to $500,000.
The loans may be used for living or operating expenses. But to qualify, farmers would have to have had their loan requests rejected by commercial lenders and show a 30 percent crop loss based on records of their average crop yields for the past five years.