MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated five Alabama counties as natural disaster areas, Gov. Kay Ivey’s office announced Friday.
The designation means farmers in Barbour, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike counties and those bordering those counties can be considered for federal assistance.
The seven bordering counties that are also eligible are Bullock, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Montgomery and Russell.
The governor requested a disaster designation for several counties that suffered damage and losses due to rainfall, wind and flooding from Hurricane Michael in October.
“I am very grateful to Secretary Perdue and USDA for responding quickly to our request to aid our farmers impacted by Hurricane Michael,” said Ivey in a statement. “Alabama’s agriculture industry is very important to our state as a whole, but even more importantly, it’s essential to the livelihood of our farmers.”
Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans.
According to a report from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Auburn University, Alabama farmers took financial blows adding up to more than $204 million from Hurricane Michael.
The hurricane destroyed infrastructure like fences, and hurt the peanut and timber industries. The biggest blow was to cotton farmers with damages adding up to more than $107 million. Sixty percent of Alabama cotton is produced in the Wiregrass region.
Other industries including horticulture, pecan, pine straw, poultry and soybean had financial losses in the millions.