WASHINGTON, D.C. — Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has designated 31 Mississippi counties as primary agricultural disaster areas, making particular farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers in the counties eligible for low-interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

“This agriculture disaster designation will enable eligible producers to apply for low-interest emergency loans from USDA to help cover their losses. This announcement is a part of our commitment to help farmers and ranchers to rebuild their operations,” Johanns said in a released statement.

Because President Bush declared Mississippi a natural disaster area, due to Hurricane Katrina, on Aug. 29, 47 of 82 counties were already eligible for all available assistance.

USDA has reviewed documentation on the remaining 35 counties and determined that 31 of them have sustained sufficient production losses to warrant a disaster designation. The remaining four counties are eligible as contiguous counties, resulting in eligibility across the entire state.