- Associated Press - Saturday, October 1, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making Maine farms hard-hit by the drought eligible for federal assistance.

The USDA has designated Androscoggin and Oxford counties as primary natural disaster areas because of the dry summer. The agency says farmers and ranchers in Cumberland, Sagadahoc and York counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said “our hearts go out to those Maine farmers” who’ve been hurt by the dry weather.

The federal government says more than 1 million Mainers are currently dealing with drought conditions.

The latest report by the U.S. Drought Monitor says 80 percent of the state’s population is affected by moderate to extreme drought.

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