Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam recently requested a secretarial designation of natural disaster for agriculture in 15 counties as a result of severe storms and historic flooding that occurred in April and May. The counties include Dyer, Giles, Greene, Hancock, Hardeman, Hardin, Hawkins, Henderson, Knox, Lake, Madison, Obion, Shelby, Tipton and Washington.
“This year has been especially tough on farmers who have been battling two fronts ““ severe storms and historic flooding,” Haslam said. “We want to help our farmers get back into business as soon as possible. I’m glad to make this request for federal assistance, and I’m prepared to make requests for additional counties as damages are more fully known.”
Haslam made the request in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. A secretarial designation would make farmers in these and adjoining counties eligible to apply for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payment Program to help eligible producers recover lost income. Other assistance such as low-interest loans and livestock loss assistance may already be available through local USDA Farm Service Agency offices.
Farmers in affected counties have reported crop losses ranging from 30 to 60 percent, and higher in some cases, primarily for corn and wheat, but also for hay, pastures and specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables and nursery stock. Farmers have also reported widespread debris, livestock losses and extensive damage to buildings, equipment and conservation structures.
“In some cases, farmers are still unable to get into their fields due to flooding, infrastructure damage or debris, and they’re running out of time to plant a crop this year,” Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Federal assistance for debris removal and to help repair fences and conservation structures will be particularly important for helping farmers get back on their feet.”
For the latest Tennessee Crop Progress & Condition report, visit www.nass.usda.gov/tn. In cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, USDA makes this report available each Monday at 3 p.m. CDT, April through November.