Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and members of his administration were in southwest Kansas yesterday touring areas affected by severe drought. The tour covered Finney, Haskell, Gray and Meade counties. Farmers and ranchers in these counties have experienced production and property losses caused by drought, wildfires and high winds.

“It is important for us to see the impact firsthand and talk to those directly affected,” said Brownback. “We want to have a clear understanding of what’s happening and how the state can assist these communities in the coming months.”

The governor said he expects an answer soon to his request that USDA declare 21 Kansas counties as drought disaster areas. Last month, the state issued a drought warning declaration for 20 counties and put 27 surrounding counties under a drought watch.

In addition to visiting with farmers and ranchers about the effects of drought on crops and pasture, the governor’s group met with about 40 community and business leaders, firefighters and emergency responders in Sublette. They talked about the impact of an April wildfire that burned an estimated 9,600 acres in Stevens and Haskell counties.

“This tour gave us a great assessment of what Kansans are facing in the southwestern and western part of our state,” said Brownback.

For more information visit www.kla.org.