Four storm systems in February produced heavy rainfall and flooding across Tennessee. Some areas saw record-breaking rainfall of as much as 20" for the month. Flooding during this timeframe caused widespread damages to roadways, homes, infrastructure, farms, and communities.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture continues to work with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, USDA's Farm Service Agency, and other state and federal partners to asses damage and assist affected farmers.
March 22, 2019 - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Requests Major Disaster Declaration for Federal Disaster Relief in 58 Counties
Feb. 28, 2019 - Tennessee Department of Agriculture Responds to Flood Damage
From October 15 through May 15, anyone starting an open-air fire within 500 feet of a forest, grassland, or woodland must by law secure a burning permit from the Division of Forestry.
- Permits are free of charge and may be obtained by calling the Division of Forestry phone number for the county where the burning will be done.
- Burning permits are available online if the leaf or brush pile is no more than 8 ft. x 8 ft.
- For information on what materials may NOT be burned in Tennessee, please visit Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Open Burning Guidelines.
- If you are burning within a city's limits, contact local authorities for information on local burning ordinances. Many towns and cities have their own burning regulations that supersede the Division of Forestry’s burning permit program.
- Visit Burn Safe TN for more information.
Safe Burning Guidelines
• Check with local authorities to make sure there are no local restrictions on burning currently in place, especially in cities and towns that have their own burning permit system.
• Notify your local fire department and neighbors to let them know your plans to burn.
• Do not burn on windy days.
• Stay abreast of changing weather conditions.
• Establish wide control lines down to bare mineral soil at least five feet wide around burn piles.
• Keep fire containment equipment on hand during the fire (e.g. rake, shovel, water).
• Stay with the fire until it is completely out.
State and Federal Resources
The following programs are permanent programs offered through the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). These programs not require any disaster declarations, but are subject to funding availability. Visit your local FSA office for more information and eligibility.
Non-insured Crop Assistance Program (NAP) - Based on coverage level purchased by the producer. There are likely minimal crops affected, but could include strawberries, grapes, fruit trees and small acreages of winter seeded broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) - Provides assistance for livestock losses; feed and grazing losses. Must have proof of beginning and ending inventory.
Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) - Owners must have legally owned the livestock on the day the livestock died and/or were injured. Livestock must have died in excess of normal mortality as a direct result of an eligible loss condition. Livestock must be maintained for commercial use as part of a farming operation. Must have proof of beginning and ending inventory.
Tree Assistance Program (TAP) - Must have suffered more than a 15 percent loss in a stand (adjusted for normal mortality) due to an eligible disaster.
Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) - Provides emergency cost share and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Up to 75% of the cost to implement approved restoration practices, up to 90% if limited resource producer; and $200K max per person or legal entity per disaster. Includes farmland debris removal, grading, restoring fences and conservation structures.
Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) - Provides payments to eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest land to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster. Up to 75% of the cost to implement approved restoration practices; and $500k max.
Currently available through the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS):
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) - While not an emergency response program, EQIP can play a vital role in assisting producers recovering from natural disasters like floods and drought. Producers must have a conservation plan. Financial and technical assistance to repair and prevent excessive soil erosion caused or impacted by natural disasters. Assistance subject to state needs assessment and program chief approval.
Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) - Requires a local sponsor or legal subdivision of the state capable of providing partial funding. Financial and technical assistance for debris removal, road culverts and bridges, streambank stabilization, exposed or damaged utilities in streams.
Farm Assistance provided as a result of a Secretarial Agricultural Disaster Designation:
Producers in counties that experience a 30% loss or more in any one crop can qualify for low-interest Emergency Loans through USDA-FSA. Loss Assessment Reports (LARs) are submitted by FSA County Emergency Boards for review by USDA. Designation requests can be made within 3 months of a disaster.
Proposed State Farm Assistance for the Restoration of Pasture and Hay Lands:
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) Land and Water Stewardship Program manages the Agricultural Resources Conservation Fund (ARCF) for the purpose of assisting landowners with conservation practices to reduce soil erosion and improve water quality. The ARCF provides flexibility for the department to target funding to counties hardest hit by flooding and excessive rain for forage planting, fencing, streambank stabilization and debris removal. Funding will be tailored to meet the needs of affected farms as damage assessments are made in the coming weeks and months.