UNION COUNTY — The farmers of Union County are now eligible for federal assistance for any losses they suffered due to the excessive summer rains.
In a statement released Wednesday, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture announced that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack had notified Gov. Nikki Haley that he’d approved her request for a Secretarial disaster declaration for South Carolina counties that suffered losses due to excessive rains that began March 1. The declaration was issued a little more than a week after Haley and State Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers joined other agricultural leaders in a tour of Dorchester County, one of the areas of the state hardest hit by the weather.
Weathers welcomed Vilsack’s declaration and Haley’s interest in the challenges farmers have had to face because of excessive rainfall.
“I am pleased with Secretary Vilsack’s quick response to South Carolina’s request,” Weathers said. “The agriculture industry contributes greatly to the state’s economy, and this unusually wet summer has impacted the work of our farmers. I am grateful that Gov. Haley recognizes the value of our industry and that she took the time to see what our growers face given the excess rains.”
Union County is one of 36 South Carolina counties designated by Vilsack as “primary natural disaster areas.” The state’s other 10 counties have been designated as “contiguous disaster counties.”
The announcement states that a “Secretarial disaster designation means farmers in both primary and contiguous counties can apply for USDA Farms Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans. Farmers in those counties have eight months to apply from the date of the Secretarial Disaster Declaration. Interested farmers can contact their local FSA offices.”
The Spartanburg/Union/Cherokee FSA Office which is located at 105 Corporate Drive, Suite G in Spartanburg. Office hours are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. FSA County Executive Director Glenn Thomas said that farmers in Union County should contact Farm Loan Manager Robert Parris at 864-814-2471, Ext. 109 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also designated as primary disaster areas are the counties of Aiken, Calhoun, Darlington, Greenville, Marion, Saluda, Allendale, Charleston, Dillon, Hampton, Marlboro, Spartanburg, Bamberg, Cherokee, Dorchester, Horry, Newberry, Sumter, Barnwell, Chesterfield, Edgefield, Jasper, Orangeburg, Beaufort, Clarendon, Florence, Laurens, Pickens, Williamsburg, Berkeley, Colleton, Georgetown, Lee, Richland, and York
Designated as contiguous disaster counties are the counties of Abbeville, Chester, Greenwood, Lancaster, McCormick, Anderson, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, and Oconee.