Gov. Bob Riley and Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks traveled to Washington last week and requested the disaster declaration.
High temperatures and lack of rain are taking a real toll on our farmers. Theres been a little rain lately, but drought conditions continue in many parts of the state. This step will provide some real help for our farmers, Riley and Sparks said in a statement. The Alabama counties were designated primary disaster areas because of losses caused by drought that occurred from Jan. 1 and is continuing.
The counties are: Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Bullock, Butler, Chambers, Cherokee, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Coffee, Colbert, Conecuh, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Franklin, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Macon, Madison, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Pike, Randolph, Russell, St. Clair, Sumter, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Wilcox
The following Alabama counties are also eligible because they are contiguous:
Autauga, Blount, Calhoun, Chilton, Cleburne, Dallas, DeKalb, Fayette, Jefferson, Limestone, Lowndes, Marion, Marshall, Pickens, Shelby, Talladega, Walker, Winston
This designation makes farmers in both primary and contiguous counties eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.
FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the emergency loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.
Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at: http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.
In addition, six Alabama counties have been approved for emergency grazing of federal Conservation Reserve Program land because of the drought. The federal program normally pays farmers to idle land in order to preserve wildlife habitat or what is considered fragile cropland.
The six counties are Bullock, Covington, Elmore, Geneva, Montgomery and Pike.
The announcement means that farmers in those six counties who are under contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to maintain the land can use it for grazing and allow others to use if for grazing if they choose