Farmers in 10 southeastern Kentucky counties could be eligible for federal help because of the drought that has affected the region, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said Wednesday.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack notified Gov. Matt Bevin that Vilsack had designated three counties as agricultural disaster areas, according to a release issued by Quarles’ office.
The counties are Bell, McCreary and Whitley.
The declaration also affects seven adjoining counties — Clay, Harlan, Knox, Laurel, Pulaski, and Wayne — as well as Campbell, Claiborne and Scott counties in Tennesee, and Lee County, Va., the news release said.
The designation makes farmers eligible for aid that includes emergency loans. They have eight months to apply, according to the news release.
Farmers should contact the U.S. Farm Service agency for more details at FSA.usda.gov.
“The drought that has gripped Kentucky in recent months has been especially hard on farmers,” Quarles said in the news release. “Crops have been affected, and livestock producers have been forced to feed hay earlier than usual because their pastures are depleted.”
The state Agriculture Department operates an online directory for hay and forage sales that farmers can search. KYAGR.com/buyky/hay-search.aspx.