JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Farmers across the state are now eligible for federal emergency assistance after Mississippi was declared a disaster area following last year’s drought.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack declared all 82 counties in the state a disaster area due to last year’s unusually dry weather.

Eligible counties experienced at least eight consecutive weeks of “drought-severe,” “drought-extreme,” or “drought-exceptional weather,” he wrote in a letter to Gov. Tate Reeves.

Reeves announced the declaration on his social media platforms.

“If you’re a producer who has been negatively impacted by this drought, please visit your local USDA FSA for more information,” he wrote.

USDA FSA is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

Farmers in the eligible areas have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans to recover from the drought, he wrote.

According to the WLBT First Alert Weather Team, the WLBT viewing area received 16 fewer inches of rain in 2023 compared to the average year.

They say it’s too early to determine whether Mississippi will experience another drought this year, and likely will not know until summer. Through March 26, the state had received nine more inches of precipitation than the average. Rainfall numbers were above normal last year through early July.

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