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Drought declared in 26 states

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Natural disaster largest ever named by USDA.

Outside News Source | July 13, 2012

More than 1,000 counties in 26 states are being named natural-disaster areas, the biggest such declaration ever by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as drought grips the Midwest.

The declaration makes farmers and ranchers in 1,016 counties -- about a third of those in the entire country -- eligible for low-interest loans to help them weather the drought, wildfires and other disasters, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today. The USDA is also changing procedures to allow disaster claims to be processed more quickly and reducing the penalty ranchers are assessed for allowing livestock to graze on land set aside for conservation.

“Agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy,” Vilsack said. “We need to be cognizant of the fact that drought and weather conditions have severely impacted farmers around the country.” The declaration is effective as of tomorrow.

Moderate to extreme drought now covers about 53 percent of the Midwest, the country’s main growing region, fueling crop- price gains that are the biggest this year among the 24 commodities tracked by the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index. The rallies are boosting costs for companies from McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) and Coca-Cola Co. (KO) to Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) and Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD)

Read the full story HERE.

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