Disaster assistance could be on the way for farmers

Anne Brock # State

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WVLT) - Early 2019 flooding in East Tennessee is delaying farmers' ability to fertilize and plant fields and putting pasture at risk. It is also delaying popular crops like Grainger County tomatoes.

"I'd like to have plastic laid, the ground fixed and ready to have plastic laid, been ready to put up stakes,"
said Rutledge grower Mike Cameron. Instead, Cameron is only growing the plants indoors while waiting to get started on his tomato fields.

Cameron would also like to have financial help repairing a pond that typically keeps water out of the tomato fields. Cameron said,

"It filled this pond up and when it did, it created this giant sinkhole right here and it totally drained the pond."

In Hamblen County, John Bells' family has to keep moving stakes for electric fence that keeps cattle on their pasture and off of busy nearby roads. Much of his pasture is currently under water.

Bell said,

"When it gets in the water, it shorts the fence out and the cattle can get out."

FSA offices are applying to help farmers like these with some structural repairs on their farms such as washed out fences. The help would come, with federal approval, through the Emergency Conservation Program. The program is a cost-share program that can reimburse farmers up to 75 of their costs. The program covers debris removal, fence repair, grading and restoring conservation structures.

Each farmers needs to call the the USDA Farm Service Agency office that applies to their county to inquire about this program.