USDA: Drought makes several counties disaster areas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated nearly half of Tennessee's counties as primary natural disaster areas because of damage and losses caused by drought conditions.

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The 46 counties covered by the designation range across the state. Farmers and ranchers in an additional 24 bordering Tennessee counties can qualify for natural disaster assistance, plus 12 in Kentucky, four in North Carolina, two each in Virginia and Mississippi and one in Alabama.

Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply low-interest emergency loans to cover their losses. The USDA's Farm Service Agency considers each application on its merits, taking into account the extent of losses, available security and ability to repay the loan.

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