Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Federal Farm Assistance Requested By Governor

Governor Phil Bredesen has requested a federal designation of natural disaster for agriculture for seven additional counties in Tennessee as a result of excessive rain and flooding that occurred in September and October.
“A disaster designation will help make federal assistance available to farmers who experienced significant crop losses due to heavy rains and flooding this past fall,” said Bredesen. “I’m pleased that USDA has responded to my earlier requests for other counties, and we want to ensure that farmers in these areas are included.”
Bredesen made the request this week in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The seven counties requested include: Fentress, Giles, Madison, Morgan, Putnam, Van Buren and White. 
A disaster designation would make farmers in these and adjoining counties eligible to apply for assistance through their local USDA Farm Service Agency. Qualifying farmers are eligible for emergency loans and supplemental farm payments as provided by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. 
Farmers in these counties have reported crop losses ranging from 30 to 50 percent for major commodities including corn, soybeans, cotton, tobacco and some specialty crops. Some counties reported receiving record rainfall of in excess of 12 inches during what are normally the driest months of the year. 
Farmers in several Tennessee counties are already eligible to apply for federal farm assistance. Counties designated earlier this month as primary natural disasters include: Bradley, Chester, Claiborne, Cocke, Cumberland, Hamilton, Hardeman, Lauderdale, Macon, McMinn, McNairy, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, Rutherford, Sevier, Shelby, Smith, Trousdale, Union and Wilson. Farmers in counties bordering these areas are also eligible to apply for assistance. 

Despite heavy rains that hurt both crop yields and quality in some areas, statewide USDA has reported significantly higher yields in 2009 for most major Tennessee crops.

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


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