California freeze aid approaches $23 million


Last updated 6/1/2007 at Noon

PASADENA — State and federal officials have approved nearly $23 million in disaster aid for farm workers, others who provide services to the farming community and business owners who suffered $1.4 billion in damages during the January freeze. To date, more than 9,000 Californians have applied for freeze-related unemployment benefits.

There were 9,223 freeze-related Unemployment Insurance claims processed by the California Employment Development Department, including 2,886 claims for Disaster Unemployment Assistance made available as a result of a federal disaster declaration.

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved $8.5 million in low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans and $4 million in Community Block Grants to freeze victims through the California Department of Housing and Community Development. In addition, 22,176 visits were reported at the One-Stop Centers in declared counties and $4.7 million in state financial assistance was provided to food banks in freeze-affected areas.

Business owners who suffered economic losses as a result of the freeze can apply for a low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loan offered by the SBA. These loans are available to small, non-farm businesses that have suffered financial losses due to the freeze itself or due to freeze damage to crops such as citrus. Eligible small businesses include those that deal directly with the growers or other agricultural producers such as packing houses, truckers and suppliers of agricultural equipment or services. Owners of small “Main Street” businesses whose customers are dependent on agriculture income, such as gas stations and markets, also may apply for these disaster loans.

Farmers and ranchers should contact their local Farm Service Agency/US Department of Agriculture for information on the Emergency Conservation Program, Emergency Loan Program, Federal Crop Insurance and Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.


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