Federal Assistance for Putnam County farmers is available in the aftermath of the February ice storm.
Chad Huddleston is County Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency. Huddleston said the Emergency Conservation Program makes Putnam farmers with at least $1,000 in debris or permanent fencing damage eligible.
Huddleston said 75 percent of costs will be covered.
“You don’t have to own the land, you can be the operator of the land, if you’ve got the land rented,” Huddleston said. “You still would qualify as the producer that’s going to complete the work to restore the farm land. Other than that, that’s the main eligibility requirement.”
Huddleston said that farmers should collect any photos they have of their damage and have an estimate for the cost of cleanup and restoration. Huddleston said farmers can start calling now to get the application process started before the April 30 signup deadline.
The number to call is (931) 738-7822 ext. 2 for the Farm Service Agency
“Beginning April 12 we can accept customers in the office by appointment only,” Huddleston said. “So the first step you need to do is contact our office by telephone and we can set something up to get with a potential applicant or anyone that’s interested.”
Huddleston said that accepted applicants will have to cover 25 percent of the costs. Farmers are eligible for up to $200,000 in damages.
“The main components of the program are to remove debris from farmland, which in this case is mostly tree limbs and trees that were broken or fell due to the ice storm,” Huddleston said. “And to restore permanent fencing that was damaged from the ice storm.”
Huddleston said that interested applicants can perform their application process by phone, email or regular mail. USDA approved this program for Putnam County only, do to the amount of damage it took during the ice storm.