76 Oklahoma counties get federal disaster designation for persistent drought
Drought has been persistent and severe across much of Oklahoma since late fall 2010.
Agricultural producers in all 77 Oklahoma counties are eligible for low-interest emergency loans due to the ongoing drought.
Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 76 of Oklahoma's 77 counties as primary natural disaster areas because of the drought. Wednesday's declaration makes farmers in the areas eligible for emergency loans with a 2.15 percent interest rate.
Although Ottawa County was not designated as a primary disaster area, ag producers there are also eligible because the county is contiguous to those in the primary disaster declaration.
“The drought situation here in our state is proving to be challenging for all sectors of agriculture,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese. “This designation will assist our producers in making critical operating decisions as we head into the New Year.
“I understand the challenges that Mother Nature can bring to the agriculture industry and I hope for more rain in 2013,” Reese said in a news release.
“I continue to express my thankfulness to those in the ag sector for their fortitude and ingenuity to fight through tough weather conditions to continue to provide the safest, most affordable food supply in the world.”
Designation covers 2013 crops
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 597 counties in 14 states as primary natural disaster areas. Reese noted that all Oklahoma counties were similarly designated in 2012. The new designation will cover 2013 crops.
Last year was the 15th-driest year on record for the contiguous United States, 2.57 inches below average.
In Oklahoma, 2012 was the 12th driest on record in terms of statewide average precipitation, 10.77 inches below normal. In 2011, Oklahoma finished 11.34 inches below normal for the year.
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