The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated 88 Kansas counties as primary disaster areas and 16 Kansas counties and contiguous disaster areas, making qualified farmers and ranchers in designated counties eligible for low-interest emergency loans through the USDA Farm Service Agency. Doniphan County in far Northeast Kansas is the only Kansas county that did not receive a federal disaster declaration.
"We are entering the third consecutive year of a severe drought. While we cannot make it rain, it is imperative for everyone to continue working together to deliver relief and assistance to drought-stricken farmers and ranchers," Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said. "We commend USDA for taking swift action to extend drought relief measures. Kansas has and will continue working closely with our partners at USDA to respond to the drought and reduce its impact on farmers and ranchers."
In order to receive a federal disaster declaration, a county must show a drought intensity value of at least D2 (Drought Severe) for eight consecutive weeks based on measurements by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Nationwide, USDA declared 597 counties in 14 states as primary disaster areas. This is the first federal disaster declaration made by USDA in 2013.
"Natural disasters of this magnitude require all of us to do what we can to conserve water resources," Brownback said. "This federal disaster declaration is an important first step in the new year to provide relief but we must do more. I am committed to doing everything I can to reduce the impact this drought is having on Kansas and to help Kansas prepare for the future. But I challenge every Kansan to do all you can to conserve water."
Governor Brownback will meet with the Kansas Drought Response Team on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, to receive updates from key state and federal leaders on the increasing toll the drought is taking on Kansas. As the drought persists, Governor Brownback said it is imperative to continue monitoring precipitation levels, soil moisture content, stream flow and reservoir levels as well crop conditions across the state.