The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 15 counties in Tennessee as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by severe storms, tornadoes, winds and flooding that began April 23 and continues.

“President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to corn, wheat, forage and nursery crops,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This assistance will help our farmers and ranchers survive the harsh effects of these disasters.”

The counties are: Dyer, Hancock, Hawkins, Lake, Shelby,Giles, Hardeman, Henderson, Madison, Tipton,Greene, Hardin, Knox, Obion, and Washington.

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Tennessee also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous:Anderson, Cocke, Hamblen, Loudon, Sullivan,Blount, Crockett,Haywood, Marshall, Unicoi,Carroll, Decatur, Jefferson, Maury, Union, Carter, Fayette, Lauderdale, McNairy, Wayne, Chester, Gibson, Lawrence, Roane, Weakley, Claiborne, Grainger, Lincoln, and Sevier.

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous:

  • Alabama: Lauderdale, Limestone
  • Arkansas: Crittenden, Mississippi
  • Kentucky: Fulton, Hickman
  • Mississippi:Alcorn, Tippah, Benton, De Soto, Marshall, Tishomingo
  • Missouri: New Madrid, Pemiscot
  • North Carolina: Madison
  • Virginia: Lee, Scott                                               

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas July 24, 2011, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

USDA also has made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.