Following a request from Gov. Kay Ivey to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a disaster declaration was issued to help Alabama farmers affected by freezing temperatures that occurred in March, Ivey and Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Rick Pate announced.
The USDA’s secretarial designation is the most commonly used and streamlined disaster designation process. The designation will give farmers access to financial assistance in the form of emergency loans to help in their recovery.
The May 19 letter to Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack details the damage incurred by the drop in temperature between March 18 and March 20. There was a total loss of blueberries in southwest Alabama and a major decrease in peaches produced in central Alabama. Other farmers also reported losses in production to their strawberry and carrot yields.
“Our department has worked closely with the Governor’s Office and USDA leadership over the past week. We have learned of numerous impacts to the fruit and vegetable industry based on the late March freeze,” Pate said. “We want to thank Governor Ivey and our federal partners for expediting the secretarial disaster designation.”
The following counties are impacted by the designation:
- Direct: Baldwin, Henry, Elmore, Houston, Montgomery
- Contiguous: Autauga, Pike, Barbour, Conecuh, Geneva, Bullock, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale
- Adjacent state contiguous counties: (FL) Okaloosa, (GA) Early, Clay
“Alabama’s farmers are vital to Alabamians and Americans alike,” Ivey said. “They put the food on our tables and are a center point of our economy. This much needed disaster designation will help these hardworking men and women recover from lost crops resulting from an unpredictable change of temperature. I know this will help a good deal, and I am certainly proud to have the backs of our farmers during this recovery process and always.”