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Drought Draws Natural Disaster Declaration From Feds

August 7, 2015

Drought across the region prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to designate counties in Idaho, eastern Washington and Oregon, and even parts of Montana, as natural disaster areas.

In a release, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said he and President Obama want to ensure that “agriculture remains a bright spot in the nation’s economy” despite the drought.

The natural disaster declaration gives farmers and ranchers access to low interest emergency loans. The payments will help cover agricultural losses associated with the drought. Farmers and ranchers have eight months to apply for the program.

In February, similar drought declarations were made in four of Oregon’s southernmost counties along with most of California.

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Washington state lawmakers have until next week to pin down a budget. If they don’t, parts of state government will shut down. In the midst of a drought, that could have ramifications for farmers and for fish.

Devan Schwartz/OPB