Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has requested a secretarial designation of natural disaster for agriculture for 34 counties as a result of drought and excessive heat during last year’s growing season.
The counties include Cheatham, Clay, Coffee, Crockett, Cumberland, Dickson, Fentress, Franklin, Gibson, Giles, Grundy, Haywood, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Johnson, Lake, Lawrence, Lincoln, Macon, Maury, Montgomery, Morgan, Obion, Robertson, Scott, Shelby, Smith, Stewart, Trousdale, Van Buren, White, Wilson and Wayne.
The counties are in addition to 42 other counties requested by former Governor Phil Bredesen and approved by the USDA last year for the same disaster.
“These represent strong agricultural counties that weren’t able to demonstrate qualifying losses until after harvesting was complete,” said Haslam. “Farming is a tough and often unpredictable business, and this assistance will help our farmers recover from a difficult year.”
Haslam made the request in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. A secretarial disaster designation would make farmers in these and adjoining counties eligible to apply for low-interest loans, supplemental farm payments and other assistance through their local USDA Farm Service Agency.
Farmers in the affected counties have reported crop losses generally ranging from 30 to 50 percent, and higher in some cases, for corn, soybeans, cotton, hay as well as some specialty crops such as fruits, vegetables and nursery stock. Livestock producers also reported feeding winter stocks of hay earlier than normal last fall due to very poor pasture conditions.
“Overall, crop production was below average last season and yields varied from county to county and from farm to farm,” said Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson. “Federal assistance will be important for farmers who are already preparing for planting season.” Counties that have already received a secretarial designation of natural disaster due to drought include Bedford, Benton, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Carroll, Carter, Claiborne, Cocke, Dyer, Fayette, Greene, Hamilton, Henry, Hickman, Jefferson, Knox, Lauderdale, Lewis, Loudon, Marion, Marshall, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Moore, Perry, Polk, Rhea, Roane, Rutherford, Sequatchie, Sevier, Sullivan, Sumner, Tipton, Unicoi, Union, Warren, Washington, Weakley and Williamson.
For the latest information on last year’s crop harvest, visit the USDA-NASS Tennessee Field Office website at www.nass.usda.gov/tn.