25 AL counties get USDA agriculture disaster designation

Published: Dec. 10, 2015 at 6:43 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2016 at 6:43 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The United States Department of Agriculture has approved an agriculture disaster designation on 25 Alabama counties, confirms Gov. Robert Bentley's office. The USDA's designation means farmers in those counties will become eligible for USDA-Farm Service Agency assistance.

The counties include:  Baldwin, Barbour, Butler, Bullock, Chambers, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Elmore, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Monroe, Montgomery, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Tallapoosa and Wilcox.

Farmers in these 25 counties now have eight months to apply for FSA emergency loans while will be evaluated individually on direct production losses.

The USDA's disaster designation is due to excessive rainfall, wind and flooding in 2015 that caused extensive damage to many crops during the year's growing season.

Gov. Bentley sent a letter to United States Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack on Nov. 12 requesting assistance for Alabama farmers. Vilsack formally designated 13 counties as primary natural disaster areas, but added 12 contiguous counties in accordance with the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act.

"Farming is important in Alabama, and we depend on the crops farmers produce," Gov. Bentley said.  "Agriculture generates billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs in Alabama. As a result of this Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation from USDA, farmers will have additional resources available to assist them in recovering from the excessive rain and flooding we have experienced this year."

"The natural disaster declaration request recently approved by Secretary Tom Vilsack will allow producers to be considered for certain assistance by USDA-FSA, provided certain eligibility requirements are met," Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries John McMillan said.

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