News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced today U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has designated 14 counties natural disasters for agriculture as a result of drought and excessive heat in 2011.
Counties designated as primary natural disaster areas include Blount, Cumberland, Fayette, Fentress, Haywood, Loudon, McMinn, Macon, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott and Wilson. Haslam requested the secretarial designation last month.
“Agriculture is important to the state and contributes significantly to our rural economy. I’m pleased that USDA has acted on my request so promptly,” Haslam said. “I hope this assistance helps eligible farmers recover and better prepare for the upcoming growing season.”
In separate action, Gov. Haslam has requested a disaster designation for Henry and Williamson counties also for drought and excessive heat and for Claiborne and Union counties for flooding and excessive rain during the past growing season.
The secretarial disaster designation allows farmers in primary and adjoining counties to apply for Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments to help recover lost income, low-interest loans and other assistance through local USDA Farm Service Agency offices.
Adjoining counties where farmers can also apply for assistance include Anderson, Bledsoe, Bradley, Campbell, Cannon, Clay, Crockett, Davidson, DeKalb, Hamilton, Hardeman, Jackson, Knox, Lauderdale, Madison, Overton, Pickett, Polk, Putnam, Rhea, Rutherford, Sevier, Shelby, Smith, Sumner, Tipton, Trousdale, Van Buren and White.
Farmers in affected counties reported crop losses in excess of 30 percent for corn, soybeans, tobacco, pastures, hay and some specialty crops. For the latest crop forecast and statistics on Tennessee’s farm production, visit the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Tennessee Field Office online at www.nass.usda.gov/tn.