Lowndes County farmers eligible to be considered for USDA assistance

Published 5:19 pm Thursday, September 19, 2013

Special to the Signal
Governor Robert Bentley announced Thursday that 50 Alabama counties, including Lowndes, are under a Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), making farmers in those counties eligible to be considered for assistance from the USDA-Farm Service Agency.

The designation by the USDA was prompted by excessive rains and flooding throughout the year. The rains and flooding caused extensive damage to many crops during the 2013 growing season.

Bentley wrote a letter to United States Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack on Aug. 7th requesting assistance for farmers in all Alabama counties or the counties the USDA deemed appropriate. On Sept. 18th, Secretary Vilsack formally designated 50 Alabama counties as primary natural disaster areas.

Email newsletter signup

“We all depend on our farmers and the crops they produce,” Bentley said. “Agriculture generates billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs in Alabama. It’s important that we connect farmers with every resource available following the excessive rain and flooding we’ve seen this year. I appreciate Secretary Vilsack for recognizing the losses in counties across Alabama and for making assistance available to those who qualify.”

Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries John McMillan said, “This has been one of the rainiest years on record. Many farmers experienced significant losses. We are encouraged that the Secretary honored our request and is now offering necessary assistance.”

The 50 counties covered by the primary natural disaster designation are: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Blount, Bullock, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Clarke, Cleburne, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lowndes, Macon ,Madison, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, St. Clair, Shelby, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Washington and Wilcox.

The assistance available to farmers in those 50 counties includes FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of the Secretarial disaster declaration (September 18, 2013) to apply for emergency loans.

In his disaster designation, Secretary Vilsack outlined that, in accordance with section 321(a) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, additional counties are named as “contiguous disaster counties.”

In Alabama, those “contiguous” counties that border the primary disaster counties are: Bibb, Butler, Chambers, Clay, Coffee, Colbert, Conecuh, DeKalb, Escambia, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Marion, Marshall, Randolph and Winston. Farmers in these contiguous counties are allowed to apply for assistance as well. The applications will be evaluated individually based on direct production losses.

Lowndes County is served by the Dallas County Farm Service Agency, 105 Samuel O. Moseley Dr., Suite A, Selma, Ala. 36701-6729, phone (334) 872-3433, (334) 872-9766 Fax.

The State Farm Service Agency is located at 4121 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, Ala., 3601-2872. Phone 334-27903500.