WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has added 76 counties in six states -- including 25 in Kansas -- to its list of primary natural disaster areas due to the drought and excessive heat.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the designation Wednesday, making qualified farm operators eligible for low-interest emergency loans.
The Kansas counties added Wednesday include Johnson, Wyandotte, Leavenworth, Miami and Douglas, among others.
Additional counties getting the designation Wednesday were in Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Nebraska. Wednesday's additions bring the total number of counties eligible for disaster assistance under USDA designation to 1,369 in 31 states.
In a statement , Vilsack says the USDA is working to help farmers under these difficult conditions. The USDA says the U.S. Drought Monitor classifies two-thirds of the continental United States as being in a moderate to exceptional drought.
Other numbers provided by the USDA:
-- During the week ending July 22, the portion of the U.S. corn crop rated in very poor to poor condition climbed to 45 percent, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service..
--Soybeans rated very poor to poor rose to 35 percent. Such ratings for both commodities have increased for seven consecutive weeks.
-- During the same period, from June 3 to July 22, the portion of the U.S. corn rated good to excellent fell from 72 to 26 percent.
-- Soybeans rated good to excellent tumbled from 65 to 31 percent.
-- The current corn and soybean ratings represent the lowest conditions at any time of year since 1988.
-- At the same time, more than half—or 55 percent—of the nation's pastures and rangeland are rated in very poor or poor condition.
More on the drought, including resources for farmers, can be found on the USDA website: http://1.usa.gov/OoIeyW