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By Tim Leeds 

More counties including Blaine added as primary drought disaster areas


Last updated 7/8/2021 at 11:18am

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack added more counties including Blaine County to the rapidly growing list of Montana counties declared as drought disaster areas.

Some of the counties are being added as primary disaster areas when producers there already were eligible for USDA disaster benefits as counties contiguous to primary disaster areas — including Blaine County — or now are included as contiguous counties when they already were primary disaster areas, such as Hill County.

Ag producers have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for emergency loans.

Wednesday’s declaration added Blaine, Beaverhead, Fergus, Golden Valley, Musselshell, Petroleum, Powder River and Rosebud counties as primary disaster areas with Big Horn, Carter, Chouteau, Custer, Deer Lodge, Garfield, Hill, Judith Basin, Madison, Phillips, Ravalli, Silver Bow, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Treasure, Wheatland and Yellowstone counties as eligible contiguous counties.

The declaration Tuesday included Hill and Wheatland counties as primary disaster areas and the contiguous counties are Blaine, Chouteau, Liberty, Fergus, Judith Basin, Meagher, Golden Valley and Sweet Grass.

The department May 13 declared Carter, Dawson, Phillips, Roosevelt, Valley, Custer, Fallon, Prairie, Sheridan, Wibaux, Daniels, McCone and Richland counties as primary disaster area counties and Blaine, Garfield, Powder River, Fergus, Petroleum and Rosebud counties were declared eligible contiguous counties.

Later that day it listed Garfield County as a primary disaster area with Custer, McCone, Petroleum, Phillips, Prairie, Rosebud and Valley counties listed as eligible contiguous counties.

Gianforte praised the Tuesday declaration in a release issued that day but urged Vilsack to declare all of Montana a drought disaster area, as Gianforte did in June.

USDA releases on the declarations say the designation is made when according to the U.S. Drought Monitor at  http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu, counties suffered from a drought intensity value during the growing season of severe drought for eight or more consecutive weeks or of extreme or exceptional drought.

The releases say the secretarial natural disaster designation allows USDA Farm Service Agency to extend emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters through emergency loans. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. 

Wednesday’s designation lists an application deadline for those counties of Feb. 25.


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