The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a request from the governor for ag disaster designation Wednesday for 27 Iowa counties that were hit by severe weather that ranged from flash flooding to drought. Iowa Ag Secretary, Bill Northey, says the federal designation will allow farmers to apply for federal help.

Northey says it offers the chance for them to be eligible for disaster payments through what’s called the “SURE” program. Northey says the rules for the federal aid make the counties bordering the disaster counties to be eligible too.

He says there are 33 counties that qualify as “contiguous counties” under the disaster declaration. Northey says farmers need to check to see if they qualify for assistance by going into the U.S.D.A. Farm Service office and find out how the program will work for them as he says each case will be a little different.

The 27 counties included in this declaration are: Clarke, Jones, Mahaska , Montgomery, Van Buren, Davis, Keokuk, Marshall, Page, Wapello, Decatur, Lee, Mills, Polk, Washington, Fremont, Linn, Monona, Tama, Wayne, Henry, Louisa, Monroe, Taylor ,Woodbury, Jefferson and Lucas.

The 33 contiguous disaster counties are: Adams, Cedar,Dubuque,Jasper,Pottawattamie, Appanoose, Cherokee,Grundy,Johnson,Poweshiek, Benton, Clinton, Hardin, Madison, Ringgold, Black Hawk, Crawford, Harrison, Marion, Story, Boone, Dallas, Ida, Muscatine, Union, Buchanan, Delaware, Iowa, Plymouth, Warren, Cass, Des Moines and Jackson. Farmers in the eligible counties have eight months from the date of secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance.