Disaster declaration issued for 60 Georgia counties

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 60 Georgia counties — including Bibb and Houston — disaster areas as a result of damage from excessive rainfall, flash floods, severe winds, tornadoes and lightning sustained from March through July this year, Gov. Sonny Perdue announced Friday.

Based on USDA damage assessment reports, farmers across the 60 counties experienced enough damage to crops to qualify for the disaster declaration.

Eligible farmers from those designated counties who meet the criteria may apply for a USDA low-interest loan at their local Farm Service Agency office, the news release said.

The counties include: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Baker, Ben Hill, Berrien, Bibb, Brantley, Brooks, Bryan, Calhoun, Candler, Chatham, Clay, Clinch, Coffee, Colquitt, Cook, Crawford, Crisp, Decatur, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Echols, Effingham, Houston, Jeff Davis, Lamar, Lanier, Long, Lowndes, Macon, Marion, Miller, Mitchell, Monroe, Montgomery, Peach, Pierce, Pike, Quitman, Randolph, Seminole, Schley, Stewart, Sumter, Taylor, Terrell, Tift, Thomas, Toombs, Treutlen, Turner, Upson, Ware, Wayne, Webster, Wilcox and Worth.

Besides those counties, another 28 were designated as contiguous disaster areas. Farmers within those counties may qualify for the same assistance as farmers within the primary counties.

The contiguous counties include: Bleckley, Bulloch, Butts, Camden, Chattahoochee, Charlton, Dodge, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Grady, Irwin, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Laurens, Lee, Liberty, McIntosh, Meriwether, Pulaski, Screven, Spalding, Talbot, Tattnall, Telfair, Twiggs and Wheeler.

“Agriculture continues to be Georgia’s largest industry and the backbone of our economy,” Perdue said in the release.

“These programs will assist farmers in counties that have been hit hard by extreme weather conditions.”