USDA names 597 counties as disaster areas due to drought

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2013 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today designated 597 counties in 14 states as primary natural disaster areas due to drought and heat, making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans. These are the first disaster designations made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013. 

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"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," said Vilsack.

According to the USDA announcement, the interest rate on emergency loans currently stands at 2.15 percent

The 597 counties have shown a drought intensity value of at least D2 (Drought Severe) for eight consecutive weeks based on U.S. Drought Monitor measurements, providing for an automatic designation. The Drought Monitor, produced in partnership by USDA, the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, measures drought intensity on a scale from D1 to D4, as follows: D1: Moderate Drought; D2: Severe Drought; D3: Extreme Drought; and D4: Exceptional Drought.

The 597 primary counties designated as disaster areas today correspond to the following states: Alabama, 14; Arkansas, 47; Arizona, 4; Colorado, 30; Georgia, 92; Hawaii, 2; Kansas, 88; Oklahoma, 76; Missouri, 31; New Mexico, 19; Nevada, 9; South Carolina, 11; Texas, 157; and Utah, 17. For more information about the specific state designations, visit the Farm Service Agency's disaster designations page.


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