Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week 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 (USDA) in 2013.
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 (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) measurements, providing for an automatic designation.
In 2012, USDA designated 2,245 counties in 39 states as disaster areas due to drought, or 71 percent of the United States.
The 597 primary counties designated as disaster areas 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.
The latest information regarding USDA's drought response is available at www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=DISASTER_ASSISTANCE.