In response to a letter sent by Gov. Nathan Deal, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack determined that, due to the ongoing drought, 22 counties, including Effingham County, suffered production losses great enough to warrant a secretarial natural disaster designation.
“I am grateful for Secretary Vilsack’s quick response to my request,” Deal said. “With this designation, farmers and their businesses will qualify for much-needed federal relief. It is my hope that this aid will relieve some of the burden this drought has caused.”
The counties, as follows, will become eligible to apply for emergency loans and other benefits provided by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Ben Hill, Brantley, Brooks, Bryan, Chatham, Coffee, Colquitt, Cook, Dodge, Effingham, Irwin, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Lowndes, Pierce, Telfair, Thomas, Wayne and Wheeler.
Vilsack also wrote that, in accordance with the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, he is naming the following areas as contiguous disaster counties: Berrien, Bleckley, Bulloch, Camden, Charlton, Clinch, Echols, Evans, Glynn, Grady, Laurens, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Mitchell, Montgomery, Pulaski, Screven, Tattnall, Tift, Toombs, Treutlen, Turner, Ware, Wilcox and Worth.
Like those in primary disaster counties, farmers in contiguous disaster counties may be considered for assistance under the Farm Service Agency (FSA). This includes FSA emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments program. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistants.
Farmers may contact their local FSA office for more information.