USDA declares natural disasters in 11 western, central states because of drought
Dead fish lie in the dry silt of Lake Arrowhead, one of the prime sources of water for the City of Wichita Falls, Texas, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. (Wichita Falls Times Record News / Torin Halsey)
Published Thursday, January 16, 2014 1:42PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 16, 2014 3:20PM EST
LAS VEGAS -- U.S. officials have designated portions of 11 western and central states as primary natural disaster areas because of a drought.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's announcement Wednesday includes counties in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Oklahoma and California.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that he sympathizes with farmers and ranchers who are dealing with the lack of rain and snow, and assured them that the USDA will stand by them.
The designation means eligible farmers can qualify for low-interest emergency loans from the Agriculture Department.
Counties adjacent to those that are affected also are eligible for assistance.
The United States Drought Monitor reports that while storms have dumped rain and snow in the East, droughts are persisting or intensifying in the West.