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USDA announces disaster declaration in five Alabama counties because of Hurricane Michael

Friday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated five Alabama counties impacted by Hurricane Michael as Primary Natural Disaster Areas. Those primary counties are: Barbour, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike Counties.

“I am very grateful to Secretary Purdue and USDA for responding quickly to our request to aid our farmers impacted by Hurricane Michael,” Gov. Ivey said. “Alabama’s agriculture industry is very important to our state as a whole, but even more importantly, it’s essential to the livelihood of our farmers,” Governor Ivey said.

“Alabamians are quick to lend a helping hand to our neighbors in need, and as governor, I will continue doing all I can to help our hardworking men and women find success.”

On October 15, 2018, Governor Ivey requested a primary county disaster designation for several counties in Alabama, due to damage and losses caused by the heavy rainfall, hurricane force winds and flooding produced by Hurricane Michael.

“We appreciate Governor Ivey’s quick response to this agricultural disaster and her commitment to help farmers recover,” Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell said. “This declaration authorizes the use of existing USDA emergency programs and clears the way for additional disaster aid. Hurricane Michael spoiled hopes for a bumper cotton crop, flattened miles of fence and destroyed thousands of acres of timber. Our farmers are thankful for the help and encouragement they’ve received from the Trump administration, Alabama’s Congressional delegation and Governor Ivey, as well as countless neighbors and volunteers.”

The Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those contiguous to (bordering) such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency. The seven contiguous counties include: Bullock, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Montgomery and Russell Counties.

Friday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was in Alabama on Friday to meet with farmers impacted by the storm and tour storm damaged farms. Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) and Alabama Secretary of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan (R) joined Perdue in Houston County.

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“USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue is a friend to Alabama, and he understands that our farmers need help in the recovery and rebuilding efforts ahead,” Congresswoman Roby said. “I appreciate his action to make available the proper resources and assistance for these hardworking men and women who have suffered tremendous loss to their livelihoods. We are committed to getting this done quickly and correctly.”

“I applaud FSA and USDA officials for their timely response to an agriculturally rich sector of our state,” Commissioner McMillan said. “The financial support provided through this designation will help our producers pick up the pieces and continue their operations in the future.”

Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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