Ag Commish Visits Storm-Ravaged Farms - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Ag Commish Visits Storm-Ravaged Farms

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Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens talking to tobacco farmer Marty Coley Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens talking to tobacco farmer Marty Coley
Melissa Forsberg (right) Melissa Forsberg (right)

LAFAYETTE, Tenn. - Tennessee Agricultural Commissioner visited tornado-ravaged Macon County Friday.

Last week's tornadoes claimed lives, homes and businesses across the state.

The effect will be felt for decades, according to state Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens.

He surveyed the damage in Macon County, one of the state's hardest-hit areas.

"It's much, much worse that what I envisioned," Givens told farmers as he walked around the property.

Givens visited some of the county's 175 farms damaged or destroyed by the tornadoes.

"We've lost four miles of fencing," said Marty Coley. "We've lost numerous lost barns that we put the cattle in and all."

Coley's chief crop is tobacco, grown from seeds in greenhouses now demolished.

Insurance will not that cost, but the state vows to work around the financial red tape.

Givens told Coley that his agency could probably provide assistance for rebuilding his greenhouses.

Farmers also lost livestock during the severe storms.

"We had about 200 head," said Ken Roark about his cattle. "Went out and counted this morning. They come up here the other day and buried 10. I found one more this morning and we're still missing 20 head."

His family survived the storm, but the farm did not.

"It's all gone," said Thomas Roark. "It numbs you. But everybody's okay. That's the main thing." 

Volunteers such as Stacey Browning help.  He's offering his auction site in Lafayette for large animals displaced by the storm.

"They needed help," Browning said. "Just glad to help out."

Another location handles out of place pets.

"We currently have 46 animals on site," said Melissa Forsberg of the Humane Society of the United States. "Some of them are owned animals whose owners have been displaced homeowners and have no place to live. So we're sheltering the animals until they can find a home."

The animals keep coming such as a little cat that was missing since the twisters. It emerged recently from the rubble.

The storms caused an estimated $45 million in agricultural damage in Macon County.

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