Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has designated 15 counties a natural disaster for agriculture as a result of severe storms and historic flooding that occurred in April and May.

Haslam requested the secretarial designation earlier this month.

Counties designated as primary natural disaster areas include Dyer, Giles, Greene, Hancock, Hardeman, Hardin, Hawkins, Henderson, Knox, Lake, Madison, Obion, Shelby, Tipton and Washington. 

“Agriculture is an important industry in this state and contributes significantly to our rural economy. I’m pleased that USDA has acted on my request so promptly,” Haslam said. “This assistance helps eligible farmers get back into business after what has been a very difficult spring.”

The secretarial disaster designation allows farmers in primary and adjoining counties to apply for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program to help recover lost income. Other assistance such as low-interest loans and livestock loss assistance may already be available through local USDA Farm Service Agency offices.

Adjoining counties where farmers can also apply for assistance include Anderson, Blount, Carroll, Carter, Chester, Claiborne, Cocke, Crockett, Decatur, Fayette, Gibson, Grainger, Hamblen, Haywood, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lincoln, Loudon, Marshall, Maury, McNairy, Roane, Sevier, Sullivan, Unicoi, Union, Wayne and Weakley. 

Farmers in affected counties reported crop losses ranging from 30 to 60 percent, and higher in some cases, primarily for corn and wheat, but also for hay, pastures and specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables and nursery stock.

Farmers also reported widespread debris, livestock losses and extensive damage to buildings, equipment and conservation structures. 

For the latest Tennessee Crop Progress & Condition report, visit www.nass.usda.gov/tn. In cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, USDA makes this report available each Monday at 3 p.m. CDT, April through November.