WASHINGTON — Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 37 counties in Kansas, including Ellis County, as natural disaster areas due to severe and ongoing drought.
“Kansas continues to face one of the worst droughts since the Dust Bowl,” Roberts said. “The lack of rainfall has had a devastating impact on our crops, and our ranchers are facing severe hardship due to a lack of available feed caused by the drought. I applaud the USDA for continuing to recognize this hardship, and I am pleased that Kansans can tap into vital USDA resources and rebuild their farms, ranches and communities.”
“The USDA’s Disaster Designation is welcome news at a time when Kansas producers — who contribute to an affordable food supply across the globe — are experiencing the results of a devastating drought,” Moran said. “In spite of the exceedingly dry conditions, this designation will mitigate the drought’s effects and enable farmers and ranchers to continue their agricultural operations.”
USDA designated Cheyenne, Clark, Comanche, Decatur, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Gove, Graham, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Lane, Logan, Meade, Morton, Ness, Norton, Pawnee, Phillips, Rawlins, Rooks, Rush, Scott, Seward, Sheridan, Sherman, Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Trego, Wallace and Wichita counties as disaster counties.
Farmers and ranchers in the following eight counties in Kansas also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous: Barber, Barton, Edwards, Kiowa, Osborne, Russell, Smith and Stafford.
These counties will now be eligible for important disaster programs, such as the emergency loan program administrated by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). These programs will help the farmers and ranchers of Kansas make it through one of the most difficult growing seasons on record.
Affected farmers should contact their local FSA office for more information.
UPDATE: 12:43 p.m. Jan. 16
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Federal officials have designated portions of 11 western and central states as primary natural disaster areas because of a drought.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement Wednesday includes counties in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Oklahoma and California.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that he sympathizes with farmers and ranchers who are dealing with the lack of rain and snow, and assured them that the USDA will stand by them.
The designation means eligible farmers can qualify for low-interest emergency loans from the Agriculture Department.
Counties adjacent to those that are affected also are eligible for assistance.
The United States Drought Monitor reports that while storms have dumped rain and snow in the East, droughts are persisting or intensifying in the West.