Excessive Rain and Flooding Prompt Primary Agriculture Disaster Designation for 50 Alabama Counties
Federal Assistance Available for Farmers in Affected Areas – Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday announced that 50 Alabama counties are under a Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), making farmers in those counties eligible to be considered for assistance from the USDA-Farm Service Agency.
The designation by the USDA was prompted by excessive rains and flooding throughout the year. The rains and flooding caused extensive damage to many crops during the 2013 growing season. Governor Bentley wrote a letter to United States Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack on August 7th requesting assistance for farmers in all Alabama counties or the counties the USDA deemed appropriate. On September 18th, Secretary Vilsack formally designated 50 Alabama counties as primary natural disaster areas. “We all depend on our farmers and the crops they produce,” Governor Bentley said. “Agriculture generates billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs in Alabama. It’s important that we connect farmers with every resource available following the excessive rain and flooding we’ve seen this year. I appreciate Secretary Vilsack for recognizing the losses in counties across Alabama and for making assistance available to those who qualify.” “This has been one of the rainiest years on record,” Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries John McMillan said. “Many farmers experienced significant losses. We are encouraged that the Secretary honored our request and is now offering necessary assistance.”
The 50 counties covered by the primary natural disaster designation are: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Blount, Bullock, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Clarke, Cleburne, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lowndes, Macon ,Madison, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, St. Clair, Shelby, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Washington and Wilcox.
The assistance available to farmers in those 50 counties includes FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of the Secretarial disaster declaration (September 18, 2013) to apply for emergency loans. In his disaster designation, Secretary Vilsack outlined that, in accordance with section 321(a) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, additional counties are named as “contiguous disaster counties.” In Alabama, those “contiguous” counties that border the primary disaster counties are: Bibb, Butler, Chambers, Clay, Coffee, Colbert, Conecuh, DeKalb, Escambia, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Marion, Marshall, Randolph and Winston. Farmers in these contiguous counties are allowed to apply for assistance as well. The applications will be evaluated individually based on direct production losses. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.