With the USDA issuing a drought disaster designation for north Mississippi, Sen. Thad Cochran has said the expanding drought situation across the nation deserves careful monitoring.

The USDA has notified Mississippi officials that four Mississippi counties -- DeSoto, Panola, Tate and Tunica -- have been granted primary natural disaster designations, with another six listed as contiguous disaster counties: Coahoma, Lafayette, Marshall, Quitman, Tallahatchie and Yalobusha.

“The drought situation in much of the country is having some ill effects among Mississippi farmers, businesses and on those who rely on the Mississippi River.  Until this disaster abates, it is important that we carefully monitor and address the damage it is causing to crops, the ecosystem and, importantly, our economy,” said Cochran, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

According to the USDA, the Mississippi counties were granted the drought designation based on areas that have experienced “a drought intensity value of at least D2 (Drought-Severe) for 8 or more consecutive weeks or D3 (Drought-Extreme) or higher at any time during the growing season).”

Farmers in the 10 primary and contiguous counties are now eligible for certain assistance, including emergency loans, from the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Local FSA offices associated with designated counties can provide farmers with information about applying for emergency loan aid. Applications must be made within eight months.

To access FSA Mississippi, see here.   

The U.S. Drought Monitor can be seen here.

U.S. Drought Monitor (Mississippi) can be seen here.