Press Release by the Gov. Phil Bredesen administration, March 5, 2010:
28 Counties Now Qualify as Primary Natural Disaster Designation
NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved his request for federal farm assistance for seven additional Tennessee counties due to excessive rain and flooding that occurred in September and October. Bredesen made the request to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack last month. The seven counties designated as primary natural disaster areas include Fentress, Giles, Madison, Morgan, Putnam, Van Buren and White.
“The 2009 growing season was certainly unpredictable and challenging for many of our state’s farmers. This disaster designation will be important for helping those who experienced significant crop losses during last year’s unusually wet harvest,” said Bredesen. “I’m pleased that USDA has responded so promptly to my request.”
The designation makes farmers in the designated counties eligible to apply for assistance, including emergency loans and supplemental farm payments, through their local USDA Farm Service Agency. Also qualifying as secondary, adjoining disaster counties are: Anderson, Bledsoe, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Cumberland, DeKalb, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Marshall, Maury, Overton, Pickett, Roane, Scott, Sequatchie, Smith and Warren.
With today’s announcement, a total of 28 Tennessee counties have qualified for a primary natural disaster designation due to excessive rain during the 2009 harvest.
Farmers in affected counties reported crop losses ranging from 20 to 50 percent for major crops including corn, soybeans, cotton and tobacco. Some counties reported receiving record rainfall of as much as 10 to 12 inches during what are normally the driest months of the year.
USDA reported significantly higher yields in 2009 for most major Tennessee crops as compared to the previous two drought years; however, heavy rains hurt both crop yields and quality because of rotting, mold and other disease problems. Farmers also reported losses for hay, pumpkins and other specialty crops.
Statewide, the 2009 harvest was three to four weeks behind the five-year average due to the unusually wet weather according to the Tennessee Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. For the latest information, visit www.nass.usda.gov/tn.