Governor Phil Bredesen has requested a Secretarial designation of natural disaster for agriculture for eight additional counties in middle and west Tennessee as a result of the historic rainfall and devastating floods that began April 30.

The eight counties include: Cheatham, Dyer, Hardin, Haywood, Madison, Montgomery, Tipton and Williamson.

“Some federal farm aid is already available through the Farm Service Agency, but a Secretarial disaster designation will help make more assistance available to farmers who suffered significant losses as a result of the storms and flooding,” said Bredesen. “We want to do everything we can to help our farmers and rural communities recover from this devastating event.”

(For information on the previous disaster assistance request click here.)

Bredesen made the request in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. A Secretarial disaster designation would make farmers in these and adjoining counties eligible to apply for supplemental farm payments through their local USDA Farm Service Agency. For those counties already covered under a Presidential declaration, farmers are also eligible to apply for low-interest emergency loans. Assistance for livestock losses and emergency conservation assistance to help rehabilitate damaged farmland is also available to eligible farmers.

Last month, Governor Bredesen made a similar request for 13 counties that included Benton, Chester, Dickson, Fayette, Hardeman, Hickman, Humphreys, Lauderdale, Lewis, Maury, McNairy, Perry and Stewart. The latest request makes 21 counties now pending USDA approval.

According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Tennessee farmers reported moderate to severe damages to 39 percent of the state’s corn crop and 21 percent of winter wheat following the flooding. Damages to fruit and vegetable crops and nursery stock were also reported as well as significant damage to farm infrastructure including access roads, levees, fences, conservation practices, buildings and equipment.

“Federal assistance will be important for helping farmers who are continuing recovery efforts in flood affected areas,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens. “Farmers are still dealing with a considerable amount of infrastructure damage and we’re seeing more acreage being shifted to soybeans as a result of lost corn acreage.”