Agriculture Notes

AGRICULTURE NOTES

December 23, 2007

USDA to conduct census of farms

Maryland farmers can help shape the future of agriculture by responding to the 2007 Census of Agriculture report form, scheduled to arrive by mail in early January.

Conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture every five years, the census is a count of the nation's farms and the people who operate them. It looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, and other topics.

The census provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation. It is used by policy-makers, community planners, businesses and farmers for projects and planning.

Completed forms are due by Feb. 4. Producers can return their forms by mail or, for the first time, they can fill out the census online at www.mda. state.md.us.

Information: 410-841-5740.

Loans available for Cecil, Harford

Last fall, the USDA designated Harford and Cecil counties natural disaster areas because of losses caused by drought and heat over the summer.

All qualified farm operators are eligible for EM loans, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in the affected counties have eight months from the date of the declaration (Cecil on Sept. 11, and Harford on Sept. 14) to apply for loans to help cover part of their losses.

The Farm Service Agency will take into account the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability. The FSA has various programs available to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Center for information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs.

Additional information is available at: http:--disaster.fsa. usda.gov.

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