NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Farmers across Tennessee have been affected by drought since September, making them depend on hay to feed their livestock.
This is more expensive and is usually done in the colder months, but because the dry conditions led to less healthy pastures grazing, some farmers were put into a bad financial position.
This is when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) started offering assistance.
John Litz, the State Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Tennessee, said over 9,000 applications have already been approved for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and $41 million dollars have been given straight to farmers for assistance.
The drought conditions have persisted into the new year, but January did bring some areas down by a category or two on the drought tracker.
There were over 5 inches of precipitation across Tennessee in January, but Ryan Husted, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at NWS Nashville, said most of this ended up being runoff and not useful to farmers because it came in so aggressively.
What farmers need is steady rain that can soak into the ground. This could affect the planting season that is quickly approaching because the topsoil needs to be moist for germination, Litz said. If there is not good germination, then farmers will only have about half of a crop, which could be detrimental.