MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Today, Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate announced that USDA Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack has designated eleven Alabama counties as primary natural disaster areas due to a recent drought. Additional counties were listed as contiguous disaster counties.
“We recognize that the drought conditions have hit Alabama farmers hard and hope this disaster relief from USDA will ease some of the financial burdens,” said Commissioner Pate. “We encourage farmers to reach out to their local USDA offices for details about available funding.”
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (see http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/), these counties suffered from a drought intensity value during the growing season of 1) D2 Drought-Severe for eight or more consecutive weeks or 2) D3 Drought-Extreme or D4 Drought-Exceptional.
The eleven primary Alabama counties included in the disaster designation are Butler, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Madison, Marshall and Morgan. Last month, five counties received the national disaster designation for drought as well. Those counties are Baldwin, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile and Monroe. For a total of 16 counties in Alabama.
The fifteen contiguous Alabama counties included in the disaster designation are Blount, Calhoun, Cleburne, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Etowah, Lawrence, Limestone, Lowndes, Marion, Monroe, Walker, Wilcox and Winston. Last month, five contiguous Alabama counties were designated as natural disaster areas including Butler, Clarke, Covington, Washington and Wilcox. For a total 20 contiguous Alabama counties.
Other counties in Alabama may have already been designated as natural disaster counties if they had previously met the requirements found under 7 CFR 759.5(a) for the current crop year.
A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loan assistance, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm and the security and repayment ability of the operator.