Almost 600 counties designated as disaster zones following drought

Courtesy of the Farm Service Agency.

Last summer’s drought continues to impact hundreds of counties throughout the U.S.

On Wednesday, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 597 counties in 14 states as “primary natural disaster areas” because of drought and heat. All of the designated counties have shown a D2 (drought severe) drought intensity value for at least eight consecutive weeks based on the U.S. Drought Monitor,  USDA reports.

The designation allows all qualified farmers in those areas to be eligible for low interest emergency loans.

Today’s announcement shows an improvement from the 2,245 counties in 39 states designated as disaster zones in 2012 because of the drought (to put it in perspective, that’s about 71 percent  of the U.S.), according to USDA.

“As drought persists, USDA will continue to partner with producers to see them through longer-term recovery, while taking the swift actions needed to help farmers and ranchers prepare their land and operations for the upcoming planting season,” Vilsack said in a statement. “I will also continue to work with Congress to encourage passage of a Food, Farm and Jobs bill that gives rural America the long-term certainty they need, including a strong and defensible safety net.”

For drought updates and information on drought assistance, click here.

For the Farm Service Agency’s disaster designation page, click here.

For a map of the designated disaster areas, click here.

For Neogen blog’s coverage of the drought, click here.

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