Tennessee requests additional disaster assistance

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen has requested a Secretarial designation of natural disaster for agriculture for three additional counties — Giles, Lake and Obion — as a result of heavy rainfall and flooding last month.

“I’m pleased that USDA acted promptly on my initial request for farm assistance, and I expect federal officials will move on subsequent requests just as quickly,” said Bredesen. “A Secretarial disaster designation will help make more assistance available to farmers who suffered significant losses as a result of the storms and flooding.”

Bredesen 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 supplemental farm payments through their local USDA Farm Service Agency. For those counties already covered under a Presidential declaration, farmers are also eligible to apply for low-interest emergency loans. Assistance for livestock losses and emergency conservation assistance to help rehabilitate damaged farmland is also available to eligible farmers.

On June 10, USDA approved Governor Bredesen’s request for a primary natural disaster designation for 13 counties, including 19 adjoining counties designated as secondary disaster areas. The approved primary counties include Benton, Chester, Dickson, Fayette, Hardeman, Hickman, Humphreys, Lauderdale, Lewis, Maury, McNairy, Perry and Stewart. Eight other counties, including Cheatham, Dyer, Hardin, Haywood, Madison, Montgomery, Tipton and Williamson, are pending USDA approval for a primary designation.

According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Tennessee farmers reported moderate to severe damages to 39 percent of the state’s corn crop and 21 percent of winter wheat following the flooding. Damages to fruit and vegetable crops and nursery stock were also reported as well as significant damage to farm infrastructure including access roads, levees, fences, conservation practices, buildings and equipment.

“Federal assistance is important for helping farmers who are continuing recovery efforts in flood affected areas,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens. “Farmers are still dealing with a considerable amount of infrastructure damage and we’re seeing more acreage being shifted to soybeans as a result of lost corn acreage.”

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