FRANKFORT — Farmers in 10 southeastern Kentucky counties may be eligible for federal aid under an agricultural disaster declaration issued as a result of the ongoing drought throughout the Commonwealth.
“The drought that has gripped Kentucky in recent months has been especially hard on farmers,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “Crops have been affected, and livestock producers have been forced to feed hay earlier than usual because their pastures are depleted. This aid will provide much-needed resources for Kentucky farmers.”
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack notified Gov. Matt Bevin by letter that Vilsack has designated Bell, McCreary, and Whitley counties as agricultural disaster areas. Farmers in counties contiguous to those counties also may be eligible for aid; those counties are Clay, Harlan, Knox, Laurel, Leslie, Pulaski, and Wayne, as well as Campbell, Claiborne, and Scott counties in Tennessee and Lee County in Virginia.
A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in the primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for certain aid, including emergency loans, from the U.S. Farm Service Agency (FSA). Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for emergency loans. For more information on available aid, contact your local FSA office or go to fsa.usda.gov.
Commissioner Quarles said the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) is working closely with federal and state agencies, agricultural organizations, weather forecasters, and emergency management officials to monitor local conditions. “We are grateful to Governor Bevin, Kentucky’s congressional delegation, and our agricultural leaders for helping make this disaster aid available,” Commissioner Quarles said. “The wildfires in eastern Kentucky have been the primary concern, but our leaders also were mindful of the drought’s impact on agriculture, and we appreciate their consideration.”
The KDA operates an online hay/forage sales directory where farmers who need to buy forages can search by county. Entries contain information on the nutritional and energy levels of the forages offered for sale. To search for available forages for sale, go to kyagr.com/buyky/hay-search.aspx.
Commissioner Quarles also has activated the Hay Hotline for farmers who need to find hay or who want to make hay available for sale. For more information about the Hay Hotline, or to post hay for sale, go to kyagr.com/marketing/hay-hotline.html or call (502) 782-4110.