The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 20 counties in Iowa as natural disaster areas because of losses caused by severe storms between April 25 and July 18, 2010.

The counties are Appanoose, Fremont, Lee, Taylor, Clarke, Guthrie, Lucas, Van Buren, Davis, Humboldt, Marion, Wapello, Decatur, Jefferson, Monroe, Wayne, Des Moines, Keokuk, Ringgold and Woodbury. The designation also covers 32 contiguous counties. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says crop experts are still assessing how much recent heavy rains are reducing the state’s corn and soybean yields.

“We just have a lot of unpredictability out there, we have crops that sat with water over their roots and in some cases those crops just didn’t mature the way they needed to, I think there’s a lot of uncertainty of what crop really looks like,” Northey says.

Northey says southeast Iowa farms are generally hardest hit.

Northey says, “We’ll have fields down there that will only make 30 or 50 or 80 bushels and acre of corn, compared to what we would normally hope for 150 to 200 bushels of corn.” The latest U.S.D.A. crop report released Monday showed 4% of the corn crop was in very poor condition and 8% poor. Twenty-one-percent was rated fair, while 67% was rated good or excellent. Eleven-percnet of the bean crop was rated very poor or poor, while the rest was rated in fair to excellent condition.

The Ag disaster designation makes farmers eligible for low interest emergency loans from the U.S.D.A.’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). 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.

Here is a list of the contiguous counties also covered in the designation:

Adair, Adams, Audubon, Carroll, Cass, Cherokee, Crawford, Dallas, Greene, Hancock, Henry, Ida, Iowa, Jasper, Kossuth, Louisa, Madison, Mahaska, Mills, Monona, Montgomery Page, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Polk, Poweshiek, Union, Warren, Washington, Webster, Wright.