2021 News

USDA Ready to Assist Farmers, Ranchers and Communities Affected by Winter Storms

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds rural communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses affected by the recent winter storms that USDA has programs that provide assistance. USDA staff in the regional, state and county offices are prepared with a variety of program flexibilities and other assistance to residents, agricultural producers and impacted communities.

“USDA is committed to getting help to producers and rural Americans impacted by the severe weather in many parts of the country. As severe weather and natural disasters continue to threaten the livelihoods of thousands of our farming families, we want you and your communities to know that USDA stands with you,” said Kevin Shea, acting Secretary of Agriculture. “Visit or your local USDA Service Center to inquire about assistance.”

Risk management and disaster assistance for agricultural operations:

USDA offers several risk management and disaster assistance options to help producers recover after they are impacted by severe weather, including those impacted by winter storms and extreme cold.

Even before disasters strike, USDA provides tools for producers to manage their risk through the Federal Crop Insurance Program, a public-private partnership between USDA’s Risk Management Agency and private companies and agents. For crops that do not have crop insurance available, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) is available through the local Farm Service Agency. This risk protection includes crop production loss and tree loss for certain crop insurance products. It is recommended that producers reach out to their crop insurance agent or local FSA office for more information.

Producers that signed up for Federal Crop Insurance or NAP who suffer losses are asked to report crop damage to their crop insurance agent or local FSA office, respectively, within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days.

Livestock and perennial crop producers often have more limited risk management options available, so there are several disaster programs for them. Key programs include:

  • The Livestock Indemnity Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that were killed or severely injured by a natural disaster or loss of feed.
  • The Tree Assistance Program provides cost share assistance to rehabilitate or replant and clean-up damage to orchards and vineyards that kill or damage the tree, vines or shrubs. NAP or Federal Crop Insurance often only covers the crop and not the plant.

USDA reminds producers that it’s critical to keep accurate records to document the losses and illnesses following this devastating cold weather event. Livestock producers are advised to document beginning livestock numbers by taking photos or videos of any losses.

Other common documentation options include:

  • Purchase records
  • Production records
  • Vaccination records
  • Bank or other loan documents
  • Third-party certification

Additionally, USDA can provide financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. Assistance may also be available for emergency animal mortality disposal from natural disasters and other causes.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) also has a variety of loans available including emergency loans that are triggered by disaster declarations and operating loans that can assist producers with credit needs.

Ensure food safety:

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is helping ensure affected households and communities are taking the proper steps to reduce the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather and power outages. Food safety tips for before, during and after a weather emergency are available on the FSIS website.

During a power outage, a refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened, and a full freezer will hold a safe temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed). During a snowstorm, do not place perishable food out in the snow. Outside temperatures can vary and food can be exposed to unsanitary conditions and animals.

Care for livestock and pets:

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is helping to meet the emergency needs of pets and their owners, as inspectors coordinate closely with zoos, breeders and other licensed facilities to ensure animals in their care remain safe.

On the livestock front, APHIS veterinarians are ready to work alongside partners to conduct on-site assessments to document the needs of affected producers. More information about protecting livestock is available on APHIS’ Protecting Livestock During a Disaster page. Information about protecting household pets and service animals can be found on APHIS’ Animal Care Emergency Programs webpage.

APHIS has additional staff on stand-by to provide support should the situation escalate in severity or the number of affected livestock operations increase. Should it be necessary, APHIS has the expertise to assist with carcass removal and disposal as well.

APHIS’ Animal Care (AC) program is also prepared to respond. The Animal Care Program oversees the welfare of certain animals that are exhibited to the public, bred for commercial sale and used in medical research. In addition to providing technical assistance to regulated facilities, AC inspectors may be checking affected facilities to assess damage and ensure the welfare of their animals.

For more information about APHIS’ response efforts and how to protect pets and service animals in disasters, follow APHIS on Twitter at @USDA_APHIS(link is external).

Helping individuals recover:

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works with state, local and nongovernmental organizations to provide emergency nutrition assistance, including food packages and infant formula, to households, shelters and mass feeding sites serving people in need. FNS also provides emergency flexibilities in administering nutrition assistance programs at the request of states and works with local authorities to provide benefits. Emergency nutrition assistance and flexibilities requested by states and approved by FNS are posted to the FNS Disaster Assistance website.

Visit USDA’s disaster resources website to learn more about USDA disaster preparedness and response. For more information on USDA disaster assistance programs, contact your local USDA Service Center.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

2020 News

FY21 EQIP Deadline

Tennessee Landowners Interested in Improving Natural Resources Encouraged to Apply for NRCS Assistance
Deadline to Apply is November 20, 2020

NASHVILLE, October 19, 2020 – The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications from Tennessee producers and landowners who are interested in implementing conservation practices to improve natural resources on their farm or forest land. Funding is available through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the deadline to apply for fiscal year 2021 funding is November 20, 2020.

“We accept applications for the EQIP program on a continuous basis, however only applications received by November 20 will be considered for funding this fiscal year,” said Tennessee NRCS State Conservationist Sheldon Hightower. “EQIP places a priority on water quality, water conservation, and promotes soil health practices by offering financial and technical assistance to address these resource concerns on eligible agricultural land.”

EQIP is an incentives program that provides financial assistance for conservation systems such as, but not limited to, animal waste management facilities, fencing, and water supply development for improved grazing management, riparian protection, and wildlife habitat enhancement.

Applications can be taken at all Tennessee NRCS offices and USDA Service Centers. To locate an office near you, please click on this link: Applications MUST be received in your local Service Center by close of business on Friday, November 20, 2020.

NRCS continually strives to put conservation planning at the forefront of its programs and initiatives. Conservation plans provide landowners with a comprehensive inventory and assessment of their resources and an appropriate start to improving the quality of soil, water, air, plants, and wildlife on their land.


Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2

CFAP 2 Makes Additional Funds Available to Producers

Are you a farmer of rancher whose operations has been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? USDA is implementing Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19.

President Trump and Secretary Sonny Perdue recently announced that USDA is going to make an additional $14 billion available for agricultural producers who continue to face impacts from the pandemic. Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 signup began on Monday, September 21, 2020 and will continue through December 11, 2020. Payments will be made for three categories of commodities: price trigger commodities (major commodities that meet a minimum 5-percent decline over a specified period of time), flat-rate crops (crops that either do not meet the 5-percent price decline trigger or do not have data available to calculate a price change), and sales commodities (includes specialty crops, aquaculture, nursery crops, floriculture, and certain other commodities).

You can learn more about this program by visiting the CFAP 2 page on There you will find resources including the new CFAP 2 Eligible Commodities Finder to easily identify payment rates, online and manual options to help producers apply, training webinars, frequently asked questions, a fact sheet, and a stakeholder toolkit. You may also contact FSA’s call center, 877-508-8364, for one-on-one support with the CFAP 2 application process.


Putnam County Soil Conservation District Board Meeting

The Putnam County Soil Conservation District will have our monthly board meeting on Monday, October 5, 2020.


70th Annual Awards Banquet


Putnam County SCD: Special Election


Southeastern Hellbender Outreach Community Meeting

On July 23, 2019 local Soil Conservation Districts from Jackson County, Overton County, and Putnam County came together to host the Southeastern Hellbender community outreach meeting at the Dodson Branch Community Center.  The agenda consisted of Jeronimo Gomes Da Silva Neto, Private Lands Biologist, from the Southeastern Hellbender Conservation Initiative spoke about what the Southeastern Hellbender Conservation Initiative is and what a hellbender is. Tracy Daugherty, Environmental Consultant, from Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spoke about water quality and permits needed.  Mark Thurman, Region 3 Fisheries Manager, from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spoke about water quality and fisheries in the Roaring River Watershed.  Chris Wolkonowski, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations spoke about why our focus is on hellbenders and what we are trying to accomplish and what we need from the community.  We had about 90 landowners from Jackson, Overton, and Putnam County at the meeting.  A meal of pork tenderloin, baked potatoes, coleslaw, and watermelon was prepared and provided to all those in attendance.  The Tennessee Department of Agriculture helped pay for the meal.  If you live in this water shed and would like some information about the programs that may be available to you please contact your local Soil Conservation District. 


Cover Crop Field Day

The Putnam County SCD hosted a Cover Crop Field Day for local farmers from Putnam, Overton, Cumberland, Jackson, and Fentress counties in Tennessee.  The field day was held on a farm that local cover cropper, Rusty Chilcutt is sowing soy beans as his main crop.  He is using a 3-species cover crop consisting of wheat, rye, and clover to help with soil health. 

Those in attendance was 8 local cover crop farmers, TACD Soil Health Specialist Mike Hubbs, NRCS Area Resource Soil Scientist Melissa Oliver, TDA Watershed Coordinator Mark Hudson, NRCS District Conservationist Darrell Beason, NRCS Program Support Assistant Joseph Lizio, Soil Conservation Technician Nick Raab, Overton District Technician Jimmy White, and Putnam District Technician Jake Jarrett. 


News Release

Tennessee NRCS Offers $2 Million Additional EQIP Assistance for Flood-Damaged Ag and Forest Lands

Deadline to apply is Wednesday, July 31, 2019

NASHVILLE, JULY 1, 2019 – The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service in Tennessee recently announced that an additional $2 million in assistance is being made available to eligible Tennessee farmers and forestland owners who suffered damage to working lands due to flooding events that occurred from February 19 – March 30. The application cutoff deadline is July 31, 2019.
“Our customers are our priority and we recognize the devastation and negative impact that has occurred throughout Tennessee’s farming community due to the recent floods,” said State Conservationist Sheldon Hightower. “NRCS stands ready to assist, and we encourage producers who were affected to contact their local USDA Service Center to apply for assistance by the July 31 deadline.”

Agricultural producers and non-industrial forest landowners in the following counties—Anderson, Bedford, Bledsoe, Blount, Campbell, Carter, Cheatham, Clay, Claiborne, Cocke, Coffee, Decatur, DeKalb, Dickson, Dyer, Fentress, Gibson, Giles, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Hawkins, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Lake, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Loudon, Marion, Marshall, McNairy, Moore, Morgan, Obion, Overton, Perry, Rhea, Roane, Robertson, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Smith, Tipton, Unicoi, Van Buren, Warren, Wayne—are eligible to apply for assistance. Click here to see map of affected areas.

NRCS will utilize the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for this special disaster recovery sign-up. EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers protect the environment while promoting agricultural production. It also aims to protect affected land from erosion, support disaster recovery and repair, and can help mitigate loss from exceptional storm events in the future.

Agricultural producers and non-industrial forest landowners interested in applying for EQIP Disaster Recovery Assistance should contact their local USDA service center to see if their land is eligible. More information is available online at the Tennessee NRCS website.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).



National Pollinator Week