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Shriveled blueberries at Unger Farms were impacted by an intense heat wave at the end of June 2021. This row of berries was on the boundary where overhead irrigation sprinklers could not reach to keep the fruit cool during the day.

SALEM — The Oregon Department of Agriculture has opened a second round of applications for emergency aid to farmers and ranchers impacted by natural disasters in 2021.

State lawmakers approved $40 million in forgivable loans to agricultural producers last December on the heels of a punishing heat wave, wildfires and ice storm in the Willamette Valley that caused millions of dollars of damage to crops.

The Oregon Disaster Assistance Program was created to keep farms solvent while they wait for federal disaster relief from the USDA Farm Service Agency.

Program loans are administered by Umpqua Bank, Columbia Bank, Bank of Eastern Oregon and Old West Federal Credit Union. The institutions issued 244 loans totaling about $16.2 million during phase one of the program from May 9 through June 3.

Round two applications will be accepted through July 19, with $19.5 million of funding still available, according to ODA.

Of the loans issued in round one, 147 went to small farms or historically underserved producers. The average loan size was $66,747.

Loans were approved in all counties except Coos, Benton, Lincoln, Gilliam and Sherman counties. Jefferson County in Central Oregon received the most approved loans, with 42 totaling more than $3.1 million.

Divided among commodities, cattle ranchers received the highest number of approved loans with 76, followed by fruit and nut growers and "other" crops — including hay, grass seed, mint, hops and hemp.

Program requirements and eligibility remains the same in round two as it did in round one. Eligibility is determined by percent loss in 2021 measured against an operation's three-year average income, with a maximum payment of $125,000 or $150,000.

Farm size in terms of acreage, sales or other metrics are not a factor in determining eligibility.

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