Small businesses that are being impacted by the drought in 11 northwestern Iowa counties can now apply for low-interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

SBA spokesman Mark Randle there’s a wide range of businesses that are now eligible for the help. “This could be a business that’s dependent on the farming and ranching businesses, someone that maybe does ground prep or does anything related and they’re dependent on the farming and ranching businesses, and because of the drought, they’re not being called on for their services,” Randle says. “It’s also for non-farm businesses. It doesn’t cover the actual farming and ranching businesses. They are covered under U.S.D.A. programs.”

Small businesses that qualify for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans may be able to get up to two-million dollars to help meet their financial obligations. “Because they have reduced revenues, they’re not able to meet their normal operating expenses, rent, payroll and those types of expenses,” Randle says. “These loans are to help them get through this period to pay those ongoing expenses that they would have been able to pay had the disaster, which in this case is a drought, not occurred.”

Randle says eligibility for the loans is only based on the financial impact of the disaster and not on property damage. The loans have an interest rate of just under 3% for businesses and under-2% for private nonprofits. “Their payment may be up to 30 years and the payments don’t start until after they’ve overcome this effect from the drought,” he says, “so that means they’re not going to have to start making payments until their sales get back to normal.” The 11 counties covered under the program are: Buena Vista, Calhoun, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Humboldt, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Kossuth, Sac and Webster.

The deadline to apply is April 17, 2023. Applicants may apply online at: