All four counties in California's 20th Congressional District are now eligible for federal disaster assistance from the Department of Agriculture.
Carmel Rep. Sam Farr's office made the announcement Wednesday, as a major drought keeps its hold on most of the state.
The designation means farmers can apply through the Farm Service Agency until Sept. 15, 2013.
"The recent drought has impacted many of our local growers," said Farr in a news release. "Agriculture is the backbone of our Central Coast economy so I am pleased the Secretary recognized the need and made these programs available to provide relief."
Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture, designated 27 counties in California as primary natural disaster areas because of the drought. Those counties include Monterey, San Benito and Santa Clara. Santa Cruz County was designated a contiguous disaster county, meaning it's also eligible for assistance.
Among the benefits of applying for the assistance: low-interest emergency loans from the USDA's Farm Service Agency. The FSA will consider the loans on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.
The maximum emergency loan is $500,000.
You can apply here or call the FSA's Central Coast office at (831) 424-7377.