Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman has designated counties in 10 more states as disaster areas as farmers continue to try to deal with adverse weather conditions.

The disaster declaration for the states of Kansas, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming makes farmers and ranchers in these counties immediately eligible for USDA low-interest emergency (EM) loans.

“USDA and the Bush administration are continuing to provide relief for our nation's farmers and ranchers,” said Veneman in a statement issued with the declaration. “This designation will assist those farmers and ranchers who have sustained losses due to extreme weather conditions.”

Missouri counties named primary disaster areas include Adair, Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Chariton, Howard, Knox, Laclede, Lafayette, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, Moniteau, Scott and Wayne.

This designation is in response to hail, tornadoes, high winds, flooding and unseasonably cool temperatures, according to the announcement.

Boone, Butler, Camden, Carter, Clark, Cole, Cooper, Dallas, Iron Jackson, Johnson, Lewis, Linn, Livingston, Miller, Mississippi, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, New Madrid, Perry, Pettis, Pike, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Ray, Reynolds, Saline, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Francois, Stoddard, Sullivan, Texas, Warren, Webster and Wright counties are also eligible for assistance because they are contiguous.

Tennessee counties declared primary disaster areas are Carter, Johnson, Lauderdale, Morgan, Scott and Shelby. Contiguous counties are Anderson, Campbell, Crockett, Cumberland, Dyer, Fayette, Fentress, Haywood, Johnson, Pickett, Roane, Sullivan, Tipton, Unicoi and Washington. Designations in Tennessee are due to spring freezes, flooding, wind and inadequate rainfall.

This designation makes all qualified farm operators in primary and contiguous disaster counties eligible for low-interest EM loans from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for the loans to help cover part of their actual losses.

FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

USDA has a variety of programs available in addition to the EM program to help eligible farmers recover from adversity, including the recently announced $752 million Livestock Compensation Program.

Other USDA programs include the Emergency Conservation Program to help producers rehabilitate farmlands damaged by natural disasters; the Federal Crop Insurance program, which provides indemnities for production and revenue losses; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to eligible producers affected by natural disasters.

In addition, through the Conservation Reserve Program acreage, USDA has made emergency haying and grazing available in areas suffering from weather-related natural disasters.

Interested farmers may contact their local FSA offices for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures. Additional information is also available online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/disaster/assistance1.htm.