By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared an additional 11 Georgia counties in North Georgia natural disaster areas due to a sustained drought.
The secretary issued a natural disaster declaration earlier this month covering Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, and Walker counties in Northwest Georgia.
The counties added to the disaster list include Bartow, Cherokee, Dawson, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Lumpkin, Murray, Pickens, and Whitfield. Those counties have suffered eight or more weeks of severe, extreme, or exceptional drought conditions.
The disaster declaration lets the agriculture department’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) extend essential emergency credit to farmers in the affected areas.
“The addition of these 11 North Georgia counties to last week’s natural disaster declaration is a welcomed source of relief for farmers facing severe drought conditions,” Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tyler Harper said.
“I know firsthand the impact drought conditions can have on our agriculture industry, especially those with dryland operations. … Our team will do everything possible to help those hardest hit recover.”
FSA loans can be used to meet various drought recovery requirements, including replacing such essential items as farm equipment or livestock, reorganizing a farming operation, or refinancing loans.
The federal agency reviews all loans based on the extent of losses, available security, and repayment ability.