Dallas County is one of 70 Iowa counties where small, nonfarm businesses can now apply for low-interest federal disaster loans from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

The federal relief follows last summer’s drought, which hurt farm incomes along with the local businesses that depend on farm customers.

"These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by the drought that occurred from August to October," said Tanya N. Garfield, acting director of the SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West.

Garfield said small, nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size can qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $2 million to help pay bills that could otherwise have been met had the disaster not occurred.

"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," Garfield said.

By law, SBA makes EIDLs available when the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. Secretary Tom Vilsack declared this disaster on December 11, 2013.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance, although drought-impacted nurseries do qualify. Farmers and ranchers should instead contact the Farm Services Agency (FSA) about the U. S. Department of Agriculture assistance made available by Vilsak’s declaration.

"Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage," Garfield said.

"These loans have an interest rate of four 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," she said.

Primary Iowa counties eligible for assistance are Adair, Audubon, Boone, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Carroll, Clarke, Crawford, Dallas, Des Moines, Greene, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hardin, Henry, Ida, Iowa, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Keokuk, Lee, Louisa, Lucas, Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Muscatine, Pocahontas, Polk, Poweshiek, Sac, Shelby, Story, Tama, Union, Wapello, Warren, Washington and Webster.

Neighboring Iowa counties include Adams, Appanoose, Benton, Black Hawk, Butler, Cass, Cedar, Cherokee, Clay, Davis, Decatur, Franklin, Grundy, Harrison, Humboldt, Kossuth, Linn, Monona, O’Brien, Palo Alto, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Scott, Taylor, Van Buren, Wayne, Woodbury and Wright;.

The Illinois counties of Hancock, Henderson, Mercer and Rock Island and the Missouri county of Clark are also eligible.

The deadline to apply for these loans is August 11, 2014. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure Web site at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955 or e-mailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339. For more information about SBA’s disaster assistance programs, visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster.