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Federal Drought Declaration

KANSAS GOVERNOR SAM BROWNBACK, KANSAS SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE DALE RODMAN AND KANSAS WATER OFFICE DIRECTOR TRACY STREETER WELCOMED AN ANNOUNCEMENT THAT 82 KANSAS COUNTIES WILL BE DECLARED AS FEDERAL DISASTER AREAS BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA), MAKING AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS ELIGIBLE FOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS. THE DISASTER DECLARATIONS ARE THE RESULT OF IMPROVEMENTS THE USDA RECENTLY MADE TO CURRENT FEDERAL DISASTER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS TO UPDATE THE DISASTER DESIGNATION PROCESS AND DELIVER MORE EFFICIENT AND FLEXIBLE DISASTER ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS AND RANCHERS COPING WITH THE ONGOING DROUGHT. IN PLACE FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES, THE USDA STREAMLINED THE FEDERAL DISASTER DESIGNATION PROCESS TO ASSURE A FASTER DISASTER DESIGNATION. THE DESIGNATION MAKES FARMERS AND RANCHERS ELIGIBLE FOR FARM SERVICE AGENCY (FSA) LOW INTEREST EMERGENCY LOANS. THIS PROCESS UPDATE RESULTED IN THE DESIGNATION OF 1,016 PRIMARY COUNTIES NATIONWIDE AS DISASTER AREAS EFFECTIVE YESTERDAY. SPECIFICALLY, 66 KANSAS COUNTIES WILL BE DECLARED AS PRIMARY DISASTER AREAS AND 16 CONTIGUOUS COUNTIES WILL ALSO RECEIVE DISASTER DESIGNATIONS. AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS FROM THE 82 KANSAS COUNTIES DECLARED AS DISASTER AREAS WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR EMERGENCY FSA LOANS. THE CURRENT LOAN INTEREST RATE, WHICH WAS SET IN 1993 AT 3.75 PERCENT, WAS REDUCED BY USDA TO 2.25 PERCENT. ADDITIONALLY, USDA LOWERED THE RENTAL PAYMENT REDUCTION WHEN LANDOWNERS USE CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM ACRES FOR EMERGENCY GRAZING AND HAYING FROM 25 PERCENT TO 10 PERCENT IN 2012. AS THE DROUGHT CONTINUES TO IMPACT ALL KANSAS COUNTIES, IT IS IMPORTANT FOR ALL STAKEHOLDERS, FROM FARMERS AND RANCHERS, LOCAL COUNTY EMERGENCY BOARDS AND THE STATE FSA OFFICE TO THE KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, THE KANSAS WATER OFFICE, GOV. BROWNBACK AND USDA, TO STAY ENGAGED. “IT WILL REQUIRE A FULL-TEAM EFFORT TO ASSURE KANSANS HAVE ACCESS TO TIMELY AND NECESSARY RESOURCES TO DEAL WITH THIS DEVASTATING DROUGHT. PRIMARY COUNTIES IN NORTHWEST KANSAS ARE: NORTON, DECATUR, GRAHAM, CHEYENNE, GOVE, LOGAN, PHILLIPS, RAWLINS, ROOKS, SHERIDAN, SHERMAN, THOMAS AND TREGO. CONTIGUOUS COUNTIES INCLUDE SMITH, ELLIS, AND OSBORNE,