USDA has designated 21 counties in western Kansas as natural disaster areas due to severe drought, wildfires and high winds since the beginning of the year. Lack of rainfall has reduced or eliminated pasture as a forage source for ranchers and caused a total wheat crop loss for some farmers.

Counties in the disaster designation are Finney, Gove, Grant, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Kearny, Lane, Logan, Meade, Morton, Ness, Scott, Seward, Sheridan, Sherman, Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Wallace and Wichita. USDA also declared 13 contiguous counties eligible for natural disaster assistance. The list includes Cheyenne, Clark, Decatur, Ellis, Ford, Graham, Gray, Hodgeman, Norton, Pawnee, Rawlins, Rush and Trego.

These counties now will be eligible for disaster programs, such as the emergency loan program, administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program. Affected farmers and ranchers should contact their local FSA office for more information.

U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran praised USDA for taking quick action on the disaster designation. Both had encouraged USDA to move swiftly, as did Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who requested the declaration.

“Kansas is facing one of the worst droughts since the Dust Bowl days,” said Roberts. “I am pleased that Kansans can now tap into vital USDA resources.”

For more information visit www.kla.org.