- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has listed 10 counties in central, southwest and northern Kansas as primary natural disaster areas because of the ongoing drought.

Kansas Agriculture Secretary Jackie McClaskey said in a news release Thursday that the designation gives farmers access to programs that can help them get through the dry conditions. She says it also highlights the importance of water to the state.

Counties listed are Barton, Ellsworth, Kiowa, Mitchell, Edwards, Jewell, Lincoln, Osborne, Smith and Russell. Some contiguous counties to them are also eligible for assistance.

The designation makes qualified farm operators in those areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from to apply for loans to cover part of their actual losses.

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