USDA undersecretary to tour Wisconsin drought damage

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Wisconsin drought

WISCONSIN — More than half of U.S. counties now are classified by the federal government as natural disaster areas mostly because of the drought.

The U.S. Agriculture Department on Wednesday, August 1st added 218 counties in a dozen states as disaster areas. That brings this year’s total to 1,584 in 32 states, more than 90% of them because of the drought.

The latest additions make drought-affected farmers and ranchers eligible for federal aid including emergency loans.

The USDA also announced ranchers may access some 3.8 million acres of conservation land for haying and grazing, and crop insurance companies have agreed to provide farmers a penalty-free grace period on insurance premiums in 2012.

Counties included in the announcement are in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming.

An undersecretary for the USDA will travel to Wisconsin to tour drought damage in Jefferson and Waterloo counties Thursday, August 2nd.