Congressman Sanford Bishop

Representing the 2nd District of Georgia


Nov 16, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack designated an additional three counties within the State of Georgia as primary natural disaster areas due to severe drought conditions. These counties include Terrell County and Taylor County, located in Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District, as well as Warren County, located between Atlanta and Augusta.

This follows a number of similar primary natural disaster area designations due to severe drought conditions in Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District. On November 3, 2016, Crawford, Crisp, Dooly, Lee, Macon, and Sumter Counties received such designations. Muscogee County received this designation on October 21, 2016. Bibb and Peach Counties received a primary disaster designation on September 29, and Talbot County received one on August 11, 2016.

“I have been working closely with Secretary Vilsack and his team at USDA, as well as with the U.S. Drought Monitor and our farmers in Middle and Southwest Georgia, to ensure the scope of this drought is fully understood and that our farmers are receiving the help they need,” said Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. “Today’s primary natural disaster designations will open up much needed resources for impacted farmers. However, we have received reports that other Georgia counties are also facing severe drought conditions, and my office remains committed to ensuring all impacted farmers are receiving the appropriate level of assistance.”

The designation as a primary disaster area due to severe drought conditions opens up eligibility for certain USDA disaster assistance programs. This specific drought designation provides access to payments from the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) for grazing losses from drought-affected pastureland and cropland. Congressman Bishop previously worked with Secretary Vilsack to extend the 2016 grazing period for LFP from October 31 to December 1, 2016. This extension ensured that farmers did not automatically lose eligibility to receive assistance as USDA examined the scope of the drought in Georgia.

Additionally, the disaster designation also provides eligibility for certain types of disaster loan assistance. The main disaster assistance program triggered by these designations is consideration for low-interest emergency loans. These designations also trigger access to the Disaster Set-Aside (DSA) program, which enables producers with a direct loan from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to move one annual payment to the end of the loan if the producers are not able to make their payments on schedule.

Background on USDA’s disaster assistance programs can be found here, and background on the U.S. Drought Monitor can be found here. A copy of Secretary Vilsack’s designation letter can be found here.