In response to a letter sent by Gov. Nathan Deal, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack determined that, due to the ongoing drought and excessive heat, 150 Georgia counties, including Effingham County, suffered production losses great enough to warrant a secretarial natural disaster designation.
“I am grateful for Secretary Vilsack’s timely response on this important request for our state,” said Deal. “With this designation, farmers and their businesses will qualify for much-needed relief. It is my hope that this aid will relieve some of the burden this drought has caused the No. 1 industry in our state.
“I also extend my appreciation to Georgia’s congressional delegation for their support of my request to Secretary Vilsack.”
U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., also applauded Secretary Vilsack. Since April, many parts of Georgia have experienced extreme weather conditions and suffered numerous crop losses. With the USDA Secretarial Disaster Designation, Georgia farmers will be able to apply for emergency loans and other benefits to ease losses.
“This is good news for farmers in our state,” said Sen. Chambliss, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “Our producers battle severe weather conditions year after year, and this designation will help ensure that they can recover from the severe drought conditions. The disaster designation is the first step in that recovery process, and I appreciate Gov. Deal’s hard work on this issue.”
Producers in the designated counties are now eligible to be considered for Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. Farmers have eight months to apply for emergency loan assistance. FSA will consider each application on its own merit by taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.
Sen. Chambliss encourages producers to check with their local FSA offices regarding eligibility for SURE and other disaster assistance programs.