(INDIANAPOLIS) - A severe drought is spreading across the United States.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced more than half of Indiana's counties are considered natural disaster areas.
Thirty-six counties in Indiana, and a total of 1,016 counties across the country, fall under the primary designation. The other 19 Indiana counties surround the most affected areas.
Those 55 Indiana counties have been in a severe drought for at least eight weeks during the growing season which qualifies them for disaster status.
The designation allows farmers and ranchers in those counties, which are mainly in the northern and southern portions of the state, to apply for low-interest federal emergency loans.
"Agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation's economy and it is increasingly important that USDA has the tools to act quickly and deliver assistance to farmers and ranchers when they need it most," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release.
Roughly 30 percent of Indiana is experiencing extreme drought conditions, while many of the remaining counties have severe or moderate drought conditions taking place.
For more information on the federal assistance, visit the USDA's website.
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