(ATHENS) –The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 17 Georgia counties including White County as primary natural disaster areas due to drought conditions. The designation allows the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters through emergency loans.

Arthur Tripp, State Executive Director for FSA in Georgia said, “Drought conditions can be devastating for many agricultural operations. Through these designations, Georgia’s farmers and ranchers will have access to the emergency credit that is critical to their recovery from severe drought conditions.”

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the primary counties suffered from a drought intensity value during the growing season last year for more than eight consecutive weeks.

Primary Counties Eligible:

Georgia: Bartow, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dawson, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Habersham, Lumpkin, Murray, Pickens, Rabun, Towns, Union, White, Whitfield.

Producers in an additional nine contiguous Georgia counties are also eligible for disaster relief coverage.

Contiguous Counties Also Eligible:

Georgia: Banks, Catoosa, Cobb, Forsyth, Fulton, Hall, Paulding, Polk, Stephens, Walker, Columbia, Elbert, Franklin, Hart, Lincoln, Dade, Carroll, Haralson

Producers in the eligible counties have until November 25, 2024, to apply for FSA emergency assistance.

FSA emergency loans allow producers to borrow up to 100 percent of actual production or physical losses, up to a maximum amount of $500,000.