U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) approval of the State of Tennessee’s request for an agricultural disaster designation for all 95 Tennessee counties. The designation makes Tennessee farmers affected by drought conditions eligible to be considered for low-interest emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), helping farmers offset crop losses suffered this growing season. In July, Senators Alexander and Corker joined members of the Tennessee Congressional delegation in writing a letter of support for Tennessee’s request to USDA Secretary Johanns.
“This is the news Tennessee farmers have been waiting to hear,” said Alexander. “My June visit with East Tennessee farmers showed me how the double whammy of the Easter freeze and now the drought hit our state hard. I will continue to work with the rest of the Tennessee delegation to make sure the farmers get what they need.”
“Tennessee farmers have endured a one-two punch this growing season,” said Corker. “In July, I toured a farm and saw firsthand the devastating impact extreme weather conditions have had on crops and livestock production in our state, and I thank the USDA for twice granting federal assistance to our farmers. Tennessee’s economy depends upon a thriving agricultural sector, so I will continue to work closely with local, state and federal officials to support the farmers and livestock producers in our state.”
The period from January through May was the driest five-month period in Tennessee in more than 100 years. The ongoing drought conditions have caused many of Tennessee’s livestock producers to sell entire herds due to inadequate hay production and water sourcing.
At the urging of the State and members of the congressional delegation, including Alexander and Corker, the USDA granted a similar disaster designation in June for farmers affected by April freeze that caused extensive crop damage across Tennessee.
A copy of the letter from Secretary Johanns to Governor Phil Bredesen announcing Tennessee’s disaster designation is below.
United States Department of Agriculture
Office of the Secretary
Washington, DC 20250
July 31, 2007
The Honorable Phil Bredesen
State of Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0001
Dear Governor Bredesen:
This is in response to your letter of July 5, 2007, requesting a disaster designation for the entire State of Tennessee due to losses caused by extreme drought conditions and high heat that occured from May 1, 2007, and continuing.
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reviewed the Damage Assessment Reports for all 95 Tennessee counties, along with additional information submitted by the State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency (FSA). Based on this review, USDA has determined that there were sufficient production losses in all 95 counties to warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation. Therefore, I am designating the entire State of Tennessee as a primary natural disaster area.
This designation makes farm operators in all Tennessee counties eligible to be considered for low-interest emergency loans from FSA, provided eligibility requirements are met. FSA will consider each application on its own merit by taking into account the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability.
Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.