The U.S. Small Business Administration announced April 28 that small businesses in 107 Texas counties are now eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans to offset economic losses caused by the ongoing drought.

Businesses located in one of 23 primary counties or 84 surrounding counties throughout the state are eligible to apply for the loans. Several counties surrounding Austin, Dallas and San Antonio were included in the list of eligible counties.

Tanya Garfield, director of the SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West, announced in a press release that nonfarm businesses and nonprofits in the affected counties are now eligible to apply for the low-interest loans.

Small nonfarm businesses, agricultural cooperatives, businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofits may qualify for loans of up to $2 million to help cover financial obligations and expenses that may not be met due to the drought, according to the release.

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

The loans have an interest rate of 2.83% for businesses and 1.875% for private nonprofits, she said, and they have a maximum term of 30 years.

On April 22, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture declared the drought that began on Nov. 1, 2021, to be an agricultural disaster. The economic injury disaster loans were made available following the declaration.

Farming and ranching businesses are not eligible for SBA assistance, according to the release, and agricultural businesses should contact the Farm Services Agency for information about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s assistance made available through the disaster declaration.

However, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance.

Applicants may apply online and find additional information about whether or not they are eligible for assistance at the SBA disaster loan website. The deadline to apply for assistance is Dec. 22.

For more information, applicants may also call the SBA customer service center at 800-659-2955 or email [email protected].