Press Releases

Disaster Designation for Hancock, Hawkins Cos. Requested

Press release from the Office of Gov. Bill Haslam; May 31, 2012:

Warm winter and spring with an April freeze has impacted farmers

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced he has requested a secretarial designation of natural disaster for Hancock and Hawkins counties due to April’s freeze.

Haslam made the request in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. A secretarial designation would make farmers eligible to apply for lost income recovery, low-interest loans and other disaster assistance through the USDA Farm Service Agency.

“I understand that weather is always an unpredictable factor in farming, and the unusually warm winter and spring coupled with an April freeze has no doubt impacted some farmers,” Haslam said.

Farmers in Hancock and Hawkins counties reported significant yield and quality losses for mixed forages and heavy damage to fruit crops as a result of the freeze. The area experienced a dramatic drop in temperatures and heavy frost April 7 – 24.

“I want to thank Gov. Haslam for recognizing that farming is a tough business. It’s important that we help farmers recover when they have unexpected losses because they are important to local economies,” state Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said.

For the latest information on crop conditions and progress statewide, visit the USDA National Agricultural Statistics, Tennessee Field Office at The Tennessee Crop Weather report is made available each Monday at 3 p.m. Central Daylight Time April through October.

Press Releases

Bredesen Announces Federal Farm Assistance For Seven Counties

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