Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack announced that he will grant Gov. Nathan Deal's request for a secretarial natural disaster designation in 13 primary counties in two categories. The department also named 17 contiguous counties that will be eligible for federal aid.
Disaster Designation Number 1 addresses frosts and freezes occurring April 12-13. Counties designated as primary include Fannin, Habersham, Gilmer, Rabun, Union, Lumpkin, Towns and White. Contiguous counties include Banks, Gordon, Murray, Stephens, Dawson, Hall and Pickens.
Disaster Designation Number 2 lists counties affected by hail and high winds that occurred on May 22. Primary counties include Atkinson, Berrien, Cook, Lanier and Tift, while the designated contiguous counties are Brooks, Coffee, Echols, Lowndes, Ware, Clinch, Colquitt, Irwin, Turner and Worth.
A secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency, provided that requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans. Farmer in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a secretarial disaster declaration to apply for this loan assistance. FSA considers each emergency loan application independently, taking into account the extent of production losses, security available, and repayment ability.
Local FSA Office can provide affected farmers with further information.