Governor Tom Vilsack is asking the U.S. Ag Secretary to declare 68 Iowa counties disaster areas because of drought conditions. If the federal disaster request is granted, Vilsack says Iowa farmers could be eligible for low interest government loans and livestock producers could get water at a reduced price from Rural Water systems. Vilsack says farmers suffered crop losses and a reduction in the quality of the crop that survived, and that raises the possibility more Iowa farmers will be forced out of business. Vilsack’s asked U.S. Ag Secretary Ann Venneman to make her decision within 45 days, and he expects her to make the disaster designation. Vilsack says Iowa’s never been turned down in a situation like this. He says the situation in Iowa and other states is “serious” and the Secretary is well aware of the drought problems. Venneman will review county-by-county damage assessments conducted by the Farm Service Agency.Vilsack says experts had predicted a bumper crop of corn and beans in Iowa this year, but that’s been significantly downgraded because of the dry conditions. The 68 counties on the list are Adair, Adams, Allamakee, Audubon, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Clarke, Clay, Clayton, Clinton, Crawford, Dallas, Davis, Decatur, Dickinson, Dubuque, Floyd, Franklin, Fremont, Grundy, Guthrie, Harrison, Henry, Howard, Humboldt, Ida, Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Keokuk, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Lucas, Lyon, Madison, Marion, Mitchell, Monona, Monroe, Montgomery, O’Brien, Page, Pocahontas, Polk, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Sac, Shelby, Story, Taylor, Union, Van Buren, Wapello, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Winnebago, Winneshiek, and Worth. Farmers in all 99 counties will likely quality for the federal aid, if the disaster designation is made, because farms in counties contiguous to disaster areas qualify as well.
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