Drought disaster declaration granted for many Arkansas and Missouri producers

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The U.S. Agriculture Department has granted a disaster declaration for 69 of Arkansas' 75 counties due to the drought.

Gov. Mike Beebe asked Tuesday that the entire state qualify for a disaster declaration, a request that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack granted on Wednesday.

The designation makes emergency loans available to farmers and ranchers. The approval was announced by Arkansas' congressional delegation.

The disaster declaration enables farmers to apply for emergency assistance from the Farm Service Agency. Loans can be made to cover replacement or restoration of property, production costs, living expenses and other items.

Many farmers have suffered damage to crops during the drought, and many livestock producers are selling some of their cattle early because of the high cost of feeding the animals.

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