USDA Alert: Half of U.S. Counties Designated Primary Disaster Areas; Financial Fallout “Intensifying”
August 2nd, 2012
The largest natural disaster in American history just went from bad to worse.
Sweltering heat and persistent drought across the country has ravaged crops to such extremes this summer that tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers are on the verge of financial ruin. The situation is so dire that it has prompted the US Department of Agriculture to declare more than half of America a disaster area.
…more than half of all U.S. counties – 1,584 in 32 states – have been designated primary disaster areas this growing season, the vast majority of them mired in a drought that’s considered the worst in decades.
Counties in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming were included in Wednesday’s announcement. The USDA uses the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor to help decide which counties to deem disaster areas, which makes farmers and ranchers eligible for federal aid, including low-interest emergency loans.
Source: Seattle Times
Without the ability to harvest their crops, many farmers are finding it difficult to make good on loans they used to fund their operations. Cattle ranchers, who can’t find hay due to the drought and whose feed prices are skyrocketing, are also feeling the pinch.