Farmers in 15 Georgia counties will be able to apply for low-interest emergency loans following the USDA's designation of Evans, Montgomery, Tattnall and Toombs counties as primary disaster areas. These counties received the disaster designation because freeze damage in February and March of this year cost Vidalia Onion producers more than half of their crop.

The USDA requires that a county must incur a loss of 30 percent or more in dollar value for all crops, a single crop or a group of crops to receive a disaster designation.

Producers in Appling, Bryan, Bulloch, Candler, Emanuel, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, Treutlen, Wayne and Wheeler counties also will be able to apply for the low-interest loans because they produce onions in counties contiguous to the four primary disaster areas. The Farm Service Agency will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

“Like other counties, damage to the Vidalia Onion crop in Evans County was variable depending on location of the field. A few degrees difference in temperature made a difference in damage sustained although some of these fields are only 15 miles apart,” said Mike Dollar, Evans County Extension director.