WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nebraska counties have been designated under a drought disaster declaration by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA announced that 13 counties, including Knox County in Siouxland, are considered primary natural disaster areas, according to Sen. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska. In addition, there are also 31 counties classified as contiguous counties.

A drought is currently affecting a part of the southern portion of the Plains in the U.S. with extreme and exceptional drought conditions reaching into Nebraska.

The drought disaster declaration gives farmers in both the primary and contiguous counties the eligibility to apply for Farm Service Agency emergency loan assistance. Since the date of declaration, farmers have eight months to apply for the loans.

Ricketts welcomed the USDA announcement.

“Food security is national security, and it is essential we support our farmers and ranchers during tough seasons to ensure the continued production of our food supply,” Ricketts said. “Nebraska farm operators have been struggling in the face of record-breaking drought conditions, and I encourage all eligible for the emergency assistance to apply. If our office can help you navigate the process, please reach out to us.”

Below is the full list of counties considered primary natural disaster areas.

  • Custer
  • Knox
  • Saline
  • Valley
  • Dawson
  • Lancaster
  • Seward
  • York
  • Gage
  • Logan
  • Sherman
  • Garfield
  • McPhereson

Below is the list of the contiguous counties.

  • Antelope
  • Cedar
  • Holt
  • Loup
  • Thayer
  • Arthur
  • Clay
  • Hooker
  • Otoe
  • Thomas
  • Blaine
  • Fillmore
  • Howard
  • Pawnee
  • Wheeler
  • Boyd
  • Frontier
  • Jefferson
  • Phelps
  • Buffalo
  • Gosper
  • Johnson
  • Pierce
  • Butler
  • Greeley
  • Keith
  • Polk
  • Cass
  • Hamilton
  • Lincoln
  • Saunders

There are also three South Dakota and Kansas counties included as contiguous counties. The counties in South Dakota are Yankton, Bon Homee, and Charles Mix counties. The Kansas counties are Washington and Marshall counties.

Anyone with questions about the emergency loan assistance can visit Farmers.gov website. you can also visit Ricketts’ Senate website or call his office at 202-224-4224.