A drought intensity value of at least a D2 - Severe Drought was observed over these 597 counties for eight consecutive weeks which qualified for an automatic disaster declaration. Because of the disaster declarations, producers such as farmers and ranchers in theses areas are now eligible for low-interest emergency loans provided by the USDA in an effort to combat or offset the impacts caused by the persistent drought.
In 2012, USDA designated 2,245 counties in 39 states as disaster areas due to drought, or 71 percent of the United States.
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).
Of all the areas impacted, Oklahoma, Kansas, and western Texas make up the hardest hit. Exceptional (D4) drought conditions encompasses about 37% of Oklahoma and all 77 counties in Oklahoma have been designated disaster areas.
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
A natural disaster designation makes all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency loans. When that happens, the USDA provides direct support, disaster assistance, technical assistance, and access to credit. USDA's low-interest emergency loans have helped producers recover from losses due to drought, flooding and other natural disasters for decades. The interest rate on emergency loans currently stands at 2.15 percent, providing a competitive, much-needed resource for producers hoping to recover from production and physical losses associated with natural disasters.
Click on the "Subscribe" button above and enter your e-mail address to receive a free alert to our inbox when a new article is published by the Chicago Weather Examiner. Follow us on Twitter! Become a fan of the Facebook page!