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Federal Farm Assistance Announced for 16 TN Counties

State of Tennessee Press release, Dec. 11, 2009:

Five More Counties Requested for Primary Disaster Designation

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved his request for federal farm assistance for 16 Tennessee counties due to excessive rain and flooding that occurred in September and October.

“Farming is challenging enough without the added uncertainty of weather. This disaster designation will be important for helping farmers who have experienced significant crop losses this year due to heavy rains,” said Bredesen. “I’m pleased that USDA has responded so promptly to my request.”

Bredesen made the request in a Nov. 23 letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The 16 counties designated as primary natural disaster areas include: Bradley, Chester, Cumberland, Hamilton, Hardeman, Lauderdale, Macon, McMinn, McNairy, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, Shelby, Smith, Trousdale and Wilson.

The designation makes farmers in these 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: Bledsoe, Cannon, Clay, Crockett, Davidson, DeKalb, Dyer, Fayette, Fentress, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Loudon, Madison, Marion, Monroe, Morgan, Putnam, Roane, Rutherford, Sequatchie, Sumner, Tipton, Van Buren and White.

Bredesen today also requested a primary disaster designation for five more East and Middle Tennessee counties. Those counties include: Claiborne, Cocke, Rutherford, Sevier and Union.

Farmers in affected counties have 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.

Although USDA is projecting significantly higher yields for most major Tennessee crops as compared to the previous two drought years, the heavy rains have hurt both crop yields and quality because of rotting, mold and other disease problems. Farmers have also reported losses for hay, pumpkins and other specialty crops.

Statewide, harvest this year 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 on the state’s crop harvest, visit here.