Tools

Drought Survey In Dyersburg Leads to Disaster Designation

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

DYER COUNTY, Tenn.- After surveying the drought damage in West Tennessee, the United States Department of Agriculture designated 15 Tennessee Counties Primary Disaster Areas.

Karis T. Gutter who serves as Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS), met with farmers and state officials Wednesday to discuss disaster relief options.

"This is almost historic when you think of the challenges farmers in particularly West Tennessee, with the floods last year and then the drought that we are seeing in these soybean and corn fields," said Jai Templeton of the Tennessee Dept. of Agriculture.

Officials said farmers in counties that have been declared a natural disaster will be eligible for FSA programs to assist with recovery.

"For the most part producers and ranchers out there that the drought is impacting, who grow commodities, they should be covered if they participate in the program," said Gutter.

The primary Tennessee counties are:
Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Houston, Humphreys, Lake, Montgomery, Obion, Shelby, Stewart, Tipton, and Weakley.

Officials said, several other adjacent counties are also eligible for assistance.

The contiguous counties are:
Cheatham, Decatur, Fayette, Dickson, Haywood, Henderson, Hickman, Lauderdale, Madison, Perry, and Robertson.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and representatives with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture surveyed damaged crop fields with farmers.

"To witness first hand some of the drought damage that's occurred here in Tennessee," said Gutter.

Jimmy Hester who is a farmer in Dyer County, told 7 Eyewitness News that farmers are suffering a financial disaster, while losing over 80 percent of their corn yield.

"You can lose in one year what it will take 5 years to build back," said Hester.

Gutter said the emergency loans will be given to farmers at a reduced interest rate. Farmers said they are thankful for the relief, but hope more programs are developed soon.

"You got to be optimistic and got to have a lot of faith that things are going to get better," said Hester.

Farmers and ranchers who are unsure if they qualify for the emergency loan are advised by the USDA to contact their crop insurance company and local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Center.