McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

January 16, 2014

USDA: 20 state counties drought disaster areas

ENID, Okla. — U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 20 counties in Oklahoma as primary natural disaster areas due to a recent drought.

Woods and Woodward counties are included in the declaration.

Other Oklahoma counties are Beaver, Cotton, Harmon, Kiowa, Beckham, Custer, Harper, Roger Mills, Cimarron, Ellis, Jackson, Stephens, Comanche, Greer, Jefferson, Texas, Tillman and Washita.

The designation means eligible farmers and ranchers in those counties are may receive low-interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.

FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

“Our hearts go out to those Oklahoma farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a news release Thursday. “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. We’re also telling Oklahoma producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

Farmers and ranchers in contiguous counties to the disaster area also are eligible for assistance. Those counties are Alfalfa, Carter, Grady, Blaine, Dewey, Love, Caddo, Garvin and Major.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows all of Garfield County but the northwest corner is abnormally dry, the lowest category of drought. That part of the county is in moderate drought, the next lowest category.

Most of Major and all of Alfalfa and Woodward counties are in moderate drought. Most of Woods County is in moderate drought, according to U.S. Drought Monitor, except for the extreme northwest corner, which is listed in severe drought.

Grant, Kingfisher and most of Blaine counties are listed as abnormally dry.

USDA also declared drought disasters in 10 other states: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho and California.

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