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The U.S. Department of Agriculture listed another 218 counties as disaster areas earlier this week. This addition means that now over half of the U.S. counties in the U.S. are disaster areas.
In 32 states, 1,584 counties have been designated as primary disaster areas. Many of these "disaster" designations have come as a result of a severe drought that has crippled much of the heartlands. The drought is considered the worst in decades and has taken an especially severe toll on farmers and agricultural workers, reports The Associated Press.
Getting listed as a disaster area means that these counties will now be eligible for federal aid, including low-interest emergency loans. These loans may be the one thing keeping struggling farmers from bankruptcy.
Along with financial assistance, the federal government has also opened up some federally protected land to farmers. In addition, some crop insurers have also offered relief to farmers allowing them a penalty-free grace period to make insurance premiums, reports the AP.
Still, as the drought intensifies, it's not clear how long these measures can protect farmers struggling to make their payments. In fact, many businesses and individuals may be faced with bankruptcy despite government aid.
While bankruptcy has a lot of negative connotations, those struggling with the drought should know that it is not the end of the world to declare bankruptcy. In fact, in certain cases, it may allow the person to start over or work out a repayment plan for debts that is manageable.
Individuals faced with potential bankruptcy in counties listed as disaster areas may want to speak with an attorney. An attorney may help you work out a plan with a lender to avoid bankruptcy or help guide you through the bankruptcy process.