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) have joined in requesting that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Edward Schafer issue an agricultural disaster declaration for an additional 11 counties across Tennessee to help farmers who have suffered crop and livestock losses as a result of persistent drought conditions. This letter follows the request made by Governor Phil Bredesen and adds additional counties to an existing request originating September 22nd.
According to the letter, “In these counties across Tennessee, below normal rainfall, low water levels and a rainfall deficit carried over from last year have caused farmers to lose as much as 35 – 70 percent of this year’s crop. Corn, soybeans, tobacco, hay, nursery, fruits and vegetables are among the major crops affected.” A designation from USDA would allow qualifying farmers to receive federal farm disaster assistance that could help them manage losses and plan for next year.
“Drought conditions persist in our state and our farmers are feeling the pinch,” Alexander said. “Following Governor Bredesen’s request, I’m glad to join these other members of the Tennessee delegation in requesting the secretary of agriculture to declare these additional 11 counties disaster areas so that farmers can be compensated for their losses.”
“Helping struggling farmers is important for our state's economy, particularly at a time when our nation is facing a financial crisis that affects every American," Corker said. "I thank Governor Bredesen for his leadership in requesting this federal assistance and I'm proud to join with members of the Tennessee Congressional delegation in asking Secretary Schafer to act quickly on behalf of Tennessee farmers.”
“I am pleased to join with my Tennessee colleagues in making this request,” Davis noted. “The far-reaching consequences of this extended drought have hurt farmers across the state, and I am hopeful that the Department of Agriculture will approve this request and move to get this assistance to more Tennessee farmers as soon as possible”
“Farmers in Tennessee have a hard enough time with high fuel costs and inflation setting in, we must get them relief as soon as possible,” said Wamp. “The Tennessee delegation is urging the USDA to consider designating these counties to provide relief to help Tennessee farmers caught in this serious situation.”
"Tennessee farmers have been hit hard by drought once again this year," said Cooper. "When Mother Nature disrupts people's livelihoods, it's important to help them get back on their feet and prepare for next year. I hope the Department of Agriculture will grant this disaster assistance to our farmers as soon as possible."
“This persistent drought is hurting countless farmers and their families in Wilson County, Smith County, and throughout the rest Tennessee,” Gordon said. “Federal assistance is crucial – it will not only help the affected farmers, but also local economies, which are already struggling with the current economic slowdown.”
"Our farmers are having a very tough time, and they need help," Tanner said. "I hope they can get the assistance necessary so they can continue the work that is important to our communities."
The 11 counties include Benton, Carroll, Claiborne, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Lauderdale, Rhea, Smith, Union and Wilson.