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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman has named Crook county a secondary drought disaster area, making ranchers and farmers eligible for federal assistance, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

In an Dec. 2 letter, Veneman declared 33 counties in South Dakota to be primary drought disaster areas. Crook county was named a secondary natural disaster area because it neighbors one of the primary disaster counties.

Farmers and ranchers in both primary and secondary counties will be eligible for consideration for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Eligibility for an FSA loan is based on the extent of loss, security available and repayment availability. Producers in these counties must apply for the loans before June 23, 2004 for losses incurred since January 2003.

"I am pleased Wyomingites in Crook county will have the opportunity to apply for the assistance they need to keep their operations running. It is assistance like this that is helping our farmers and ranchers weather the blows that nature has dealt us," said Enzi.

For more information regarding the drought designations please contact the Crook County FSA office at 307-283-2870.