Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen has announced that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has granted a designation of natural disaster for agriculture for Knox and Sumner counties as a result of drought and excessive heat during the growing season. Bredesen requested the Secretarial designation last month.

“While some Tennessee farmers have experienced flooding this year, others have suffered a lack of rainfall,” said Bredesen. “I’m pleased farmers in these areas have this opportunity for federal assistance to help them recover from a difficult growing season.”

The Secretarial disaster designation makes farmers in Knox, Sumner and adjoining counties eligible to apply for low-interest loans and supplemental farm payments through their local USDA Farm Service Agency. The adjoining counties include Anderson, Blount, Davidson, Grainger, Jefferson, Loudon, Macon, Roane, Robertson, Sevier, Trousdale, Union and Wilson counties in Tennessee and Allen and Simpson counties in Kentucky.

Farmers in Knox and Sumner counties have reported crop losses exceeding 30 percent in most cases for corn, soybeans, tobacco, hay and pastures as a result of inadequate rainfall during critical periods for crop development.

According to the Tennessee Field Office of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, the latest weekly crop survey shows 45 percent of pastures and 27 percent of soybeans rated in poor to very poor condition.

For the latest crop forecast and a weekly report on crop conditions across the state, visit www.nass.usda.gov/tn.