Local News

Area Counties Designated as Disaster Areas

DroughtThe USDA announced Wednesday 10 Kansas counties have been designated as Primary Natural Disaster Areas. The designation comes as a result of the ongoing drought in the region.

Counties listed include: Barton, Ellsworth, Kiowa, Mitchell, Edwards, Jewell, Lincoln, Osborne, Smith and Russell.

Contiguous counties also eligible for assistance include: Barber, Ellis, Ottawa, Republic, Clark, Ford, Pawnee, Rice, Cloud, Hodgeman, Phillips, Rooks, Comanche, McPherson, Pratt, Stafford, Saline and Rush.

Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey commented on the announcement.

"This designation will allow Kansas farmers and ranchers to have access to programs that can assist them as they weather this challenging time," McClaskey said. "It also highlights the critical importance of water to Kansans. Without water, agriculture, our state's largest industry, cannot thrive."

All counties designated natural disaster areas on March 26, 2014, make qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.

Additional programs available to assist farmers and ranchers include the Emergency Conservation Program, Federal Crop Insurance and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures.

This designation comes at a time when Kansas officials are working to help develop a water vision. "Gov. Brownback issued a charge last October to develop a comprehensive, 50-year vision for water," McClaskey said. "The long-term viability of our water supply, including the usable life of the Ogallala Aquifer and our reservoirs, is at stake. We must be proactive in our approach in order to ensure the ongoing economic viability of Kansas."

The Water Vision team has conducted over 130 presentations to nearly 6,000 Kansans since last October. The team has gathered input on the 50-year water vision from farmers, ranchers, municipalities, other water users and other stakeholder groups. For more information about the Vision for Water in Kansas or to submit comments, visit www.kwo.org/50_Year_Vision/50_Year_Vision.htm 

On April 11, in Manhattan, Kansas, there will be a Joint Meeting of the Kansas Water Authority, Natural Resource Agencies and Stakeholders in Manhattan to further develop the draft of the Water Vision.

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