Clarke County

USDA declares 17 counties in Georgia are natural disaster areas due to severe drought conditions

ATHENS, Ga. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture said 17 Georgia counties are primary natural disaster areas due to severe drought conditions.

As a result, the federal agency said producers in 18 connected counties in Georgia are eligible for emergency relief.

The USDA designation will allow the Farm Service Agency to provide “much needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters through emergency loans,” according to officials.

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The U.S. Drought Monitor said the primary counties eligible for relief “suffered from a drought intensity value during the growing season of D2 Drought-Severe for more than 8 or more consecutive weeks,” with drought extremity reported as bad as Drought-Extreme and Drought-Exceptional.

The USDA said an extra nine contiguous Georgia counties’ producers are also eligible for disaster relief coverage.

All producers who qualify will have until Nov. 25 to apply for FSA emergency assistance.

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The counties declared as primary, for eligibility purposes, include Bartow, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dawson, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Habersham, Lumpkin, Murray, Pickens, Rabun, Towns, Union, White and Whitfield counties.

For the additional contiguous counties, the USDA said Banks, Catoosa, Cobb, Forsyth, Fulton, Hall, Paulding, Polk, Stephens, Walker, Columbia, Elbert, Franklin, Hart, Lincoln, Dade, Carroll and Haralson were also eligible for assistance.

The FSA emergency loans will let producers who apply and are approved receive up to 100% of actual production or physical losses covered up to a maximum of $500,000.

“FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, considering the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability,” the USDA said in their announcement.

For information about the FSA’s disaster recovery options, producers can visit farmers.gov, where the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Loan Assistance Tool. They can also reach out to their local USDA Service Center to file Notices of Loss.

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