Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that 39 counties in eight states will be designated as natural disaster areas due to damage and losses from drought and extreme heat. Counties in the states of Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming were included, qualifying farmers and ranchers in 1,297 counties across 29 states eligible for low-interest emergency loans.
"Our hearts go out to all of those affected by this drought," said Vilsack. "President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. That’s why USDA officials are fanning out to affected areas, to let our farmers and ranchers know that we stand with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood. And that is also why it is important that Congress pass a food, farm and jobs bill that ensures a robust safety net for producers in times of need."
Earlier this week the entire state of Missouri was declared a disaster area. Vilsack has worked to reduce interest rates on emergency loans to 2.25% and has released Conservation Reserve Program acres for emergency haying and grazing. A new streamlined process implemented by USDA will decrease disaster fund processing time by 40% in most counties affected.
Learn more about emergency loans with this FAQ sheet