U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Representatives David Davis (R-Tenn. 1), Zach Wamp (R-Tenn. 3), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn. 5), Bart Gordon (D-Tenn. 6), and John Tanner (D-Tenn. 8) today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Edward T. Schafer has declared 39 counties in Tennessee as disaster areas due to losses caused by drought. According to Secretary Schafer’s declaration, “This designation makes farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met.”
The following 39 counties were declared as primary natural disaster areas: Anderson, Benton, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Cannon, Carroll, Claiborne, Coffee, Fentress, Franklin, Grainger, Greene, Grundy, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Henry, Jefferson, Know, Lake, Lauderdale, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Overton, Pickett, Polk, Rhea, Scott, Smith, Unicoi, Union, Warren, Washington, Weakley, and Wilson.
In addition, 37 contiguous counties may also be eligible for disaster assistance. Those counties are: Bedford, Campbell, Carter, Clay, Cocke, Crockett, Cumberland, Davidson, De Kalb, Decatur, Dyer, Gibson, Haywood, Henderson, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Lincoln, Loudon, Macon, Madison, Marion, Moore, Obion, Perry, Putnam, Roane, Rutherford, Sequatchie, Sevier, Stewart, Sullivan, Sumner, Tipton, Trousdale, Van Buren, and White.
“I’m glad that Secretary Schafer has announced this declaration for 39 counties in our state that have experienced some of the driest seasons in our state’s history,” Alexander said. “With this declaration from the Secretary of Agriculture, Tennessee farmers should be able to get the help they need.”
“Extreme weather conditions have made it a particularly tough few years for our Tennessee farmers. Low rainfall levels have caused farmers to lose as much as 35-70 percent of their crops this year,” Corker said. “I was proud to join with members of the Tennessee congressional delegation in asking Secretary Shafer to act quickly in issuing this declaration, and I hope farmers in our state will receive appropriate relief for any drought-related losses.”
"I am glad to have joined in the efforts with my colleagues to obtain the disaster declaration for our farmers as the drought conditions have caused serious economic hardships for our agriculture communities,” said Congressman David Davis.
“This USDA declaration provides some relief to the farmers in Tennessee who were hit with tough conditions this year, and whose families are having a hard enough time weathering today’s economic conditions,” said Congressman Zach Wamp.
“This drought has destroyed crop yields and hurt county economies across Middle Tennessee and throughout the rest of the state,” Congressman Bart Gordon said. “With this declaration, the many affected farmers and their families in counties like Overton, Cannon, Smith and Wilson can begin to rebuild and prepare for the start of the next farming season.”
“This drought declaration will provide some much-needed relief to Tennessee farmers who experienced a record-setting drought,” said Congressman Jim Cooper. “I appreciate USDA’s prompt action. Any farmer in these counties who suffered damages should contact local FSA representatives right away.”
"Tennessee farms are important to our local economy and our families' well-being," Congressman John Tanner said. "We are optimistic there will be assistance for the farmers who have been hurt by bad weather."
The members wrote two letters to Secretary Schafer on September 23rd and October 10th requesting that he issue a disaster declaration to help Tennessee farmers who have suffered crop and livestock losses as a result of consistent drought conditions.