The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Overton County, Tenn., as a primary natural disaster area because of losses caused by excessive rain and extensive flooding that occurred on July 15, 2009, and July 16, 2009.

"President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to the area and serious harm to farms in Tennessee," said Secretary Tom Vilsack. "These designations will provide help to farmers who suffered significant production losses to corn and cool-season grasses."

Farm operators in Clay, Fentress, Jackson, Pickett and Putnam counties in Tennessee also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas Sept. 17, 2009, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. 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 EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

USDA has also made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. 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.