WASHINGTON (WIBW) -- Seventeen Kansas counties qualify for federal aid after the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated five of them primary natural disaster areas. The other twelve counties qualify as contiguous counties.
"Our hearts go out to those Kansas farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "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.
Based on the recent drought, Butler, Harvey, Kingman, Reno, and Sedgwick were designated Primary Natural Disaster Areas, the USDA said. Barber, Chase, Cowley, Elk, Greenwood, Harper, Marion, McPherson, Pratt, Rice, Stafford, and Sumner received contiguous county labels.
The USDA announced its declaration on Wednesday, May 7, allowing farmers who meet certain eligibility requirements to apply for low interest emergency loans through its Farm Service Agency (FSA). Farmers will have eight months to apply.
“As I travel throughout Kansas, I can see the devastating impact of the drought,” Sen. Moran said. “By declaring these counties agricultural disaster areas, farmers and ranchers in the affected counties will become eligible for USDA emergency loans. This assistance will enable agricultural operations to continue across our state, in spite of the exceedingly dry conditions.”
Additional programs will also be available to farmers and ranchers, the USDA said. Those programs include the Emergency Conservation Program, The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).
Farmers interested in those programs are asked to contact their local USDA service center.