OKLAHOMA CITY -- Governor Brad Henry says federal aid is on the way to farmers and ranchers in 72 Oklahoma counties who suffered damages because of drought, extreme heat and high winds over a 12-month period beginning in November of 2009.
In a letter to the governor, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said loss assessments indicated there was sufficient damage to merit a primary disaster declaration in 58 counties.
Under federal regulations, an additional 14 contiguous counties would qualify for aid as well.
In a news release, last month, Gov. Henry requested an agricultural disaster declaration for all of the state's 77 counties.
"We had hoped to earn a statewide disaster declaration, but this designation will cover most of the hardest hit areas," said Gov. Henry. "Our farmers and ranchers endured some very tough weather over the last year and they need all the help they can get. This declaration won't address all of their needs, but it is a step in the right direction."
Oklahoma farmers and ranchers in the qualifying 72 counties are now eligible for low-interest loans to address losses caused by the extreme weather conditions.
The only counties that will not receive aid under the federal designation are Craig, Kay, Nowata, Ottawa and Washington counties.
Federal authorities said losses in those five counties did not meet the threshold necessary to earn a disaster declaration.