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TN Lauded By USDA for SNAP Performance, Awarded $5M Bonus

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Human Services; July 17, 2014:

NASHVILLE, TN – The Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) has been recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for high performance in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

According to the USDA, for the first time in DHS history, it has been recognized as No. 1 in the nation for most improvement in Case and Procedural Error Rate (CAPER), a measurement directly related to improvement in efficiency and customer service. Tennessee’s CAPER rate decreased from 46.28 percent in FY 2012 to 23.51 percent in FY 2013. This rate also falls below the national average of 25.25 percent.

The USDA also recognized DHS as having the sixth best SNAP payment accuracy rate in the nation for FY 2013. This national measure indicates the rate of SNAP cases with overpayments and underpayments based upon benefits for which a household is entitled. This measurement is directly related to program integrity.

“We continue to focus on making state government more customer-focused, efficient and effective for Tennessee taxpayers, and I am grateful to Commissioner Hatter and her team at DHS for their hard work,” Gov. Bill Haslam said.

“A special thanks goes to our staff – frontline and management – who have implemented new business processes that continue to help us identify opportunities to become more efficient, to better address program integrity, manage workloads, improve customer service, and exercise better stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” DHS Commissioner Raquel Hatter said.

DHS’s achievements are accompanied by performance bonuses from the USDA of approximately $5 million, which must be invested in technology, program integrity, and administration linked to the provision of SNAP. DHS will invest the funds in its 21st Century Family Assistance Service Delivery Model and modernization effort.

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Press Releases

More Federal Relief for TN Farmers

State of Tennessee press release, Jan 22, 2010:

Bredesen Announces Federal Farm Assistance for Five Counties

21 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 five additional Tennessee counties due to excessive rain and flooding that occurred in September and October.

“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.”

Bredesen made the request in a Dec. 11 letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The five counties designated as primary natural disaster areas include: Claiborne, Cocke, Rutherford, Sevier and Union.

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: Anderson, Bedford, Blount, Campbell, Cannon, Coffee, Davidson, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Jefferson, Knox, Marshall and Williamson.

With today’s announcement, a total of 21 Tennessee counties have qualified for a primary natural disaster designation due to excessive rain during the 2009 harvest. Last month, USDA named 16 other counties as primary natural disasters including: Bradley, Chester, Cumberland, Hamilton, Hardeman, Lauderdale, Macon, McMinn, McNairy, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, Shelby, Smith, Trousdale and Wilson.

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 projected 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 on the 2009 crop harvest, visit www.nass.usda.gov/tn.

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Press Releases

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.