U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack designated 11 Alabama counties as primary natural disaster areas October 31, in regards to ongoing drought conditions, as well as 15 additional counties that are adjacent to those counties.
Winston and Marion counties were named contiguous counties in the declaration because they are next to Franklin and Cullman counties, which were designated as primary natural disaster areas. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor report from October 26, both Winston and Marion counties are in a severe drought currently. Portions of Franklin County are under extreme drought conditions.
A secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and counties contiguous to primary counties eligible to be considered for Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loan assistance, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm and the security and repayment ability of the operator.
Winston and Marion counties are served by the Marion County Farm Service Agency, located at 285 Laurel Lane in Hamilton. To learn how they can help, call (205) 921-3103 ext 2.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.