A proposed USDA rule – to streamline the disaster designation process so farmers get emergency loans 70% faster – is taking comments from the public, according to the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

“It’s crucial that we help farmers remain productive through difficult times,” says FSA administrator Bruce Nelson. “When disaster strikes, this proposal will help us provide assistance more quickly, streamlining processes from six steps to two. That’s the kind of improvement we need to make.”

Qualified farm operators in regions designated as disaster areas are eligible for a variety of assistance from USDA, including low-interest emergency (EM) loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE).

Currently, designations require a state governor or Indian tribal council to initiate them through a formal request of the USDA ag secretary, who authorizes those designations.

The proposed rule has a 60-day comment period and can be viewed at www.regulations.gov. Comments must be submitted no later than Jan. 13 to be considered.