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USDA declares drought disaster in much of wheat belt

Jan. 11, 2013, Washington, DC - The United States has designated 597 counties in 14 states as primary natural disaster areas due to drought and heat. A natural disaster designation makes all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency loans.

These are the first disaster designations made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2013.

The 597 counties have shown a drought intensity value of at least D2 (Drought Severe) for eight consecutive weeks based on U.S. Drought Monitor measurements, providing for an automatic designation. The Drought Monitor is produced in partnership by USDA, the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It helps USDA determine county disaster designations due to drought. The Drought Monitor measures drought intensity on a scale from D1 to D4, as follows:

  • D1: Moderate Drought
  • D2: Severe Drought
  • D3: Extreme Drought
  • D4: Exceptional Drought

The 597 primary counties designated as disaster areas correspond to the following states: Alabama, 14; Arkansas, 47; Arizona, 4; Colorado, 30; Georgia, 92; Hawaii, 2; Kansas, 88; Oklahoma, 76; Missouri, 31; New Mexico, 19; Nevada, 9; South Carolina, 11; Texas, 157; and Utah, 17.