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Ky. farmers can get federal relief for drought

FRANKFORT — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that it will provide financial assistance to Kentucky farmers whose crops have wilted under a prolonged drought that has expanded northward from the Deep South. Farmers also will be eligible for loans if they suffered crop losses from high winds when the remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through the state in September.

Gov. Steve Beshear said the drought has brought financial hardships to Kentucky.

The loans will be available to farmers in all 120 Kentucky counties.

Southeastern Kentucky is under "extreme drought" conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Others portions of the state were under mild to moderate drought conditions. Retailers in the mountain region have been supplying bottled water to drought-stricken Magoffin County after the flow of its primary water source, the Licking River, slowed to a trickle. Authorities have banned outdoor burning in 34 Kentucky counties to guard against forest fires in the mountainous eastern half of the state. Keys Arnold, a staff meteorologist at the University of Kentucky's agricultural weather center, said a cold front expected to cross the state Thursday is likely to bring a quarter-inch of rain, not nearly enough to offset the precipitation deficit.

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