Despite some much needed recent rain in the Missoula area, many Montana counties have been dubbed "natural disaster areas" due to severe drought conditions the state has faced in the past few weeks—Missoula being one of them. Montana Governor Steve Bullock weighed in on the issue again today, announcing that 15 counties designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are primary natural disaster areas due to drought conditions, and nine additional ones have been named neighboring disaster counties.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this declaration allows farm operators in these designated counties to be considered for assistance from the Farm Services Agency to recover from losses as a result of a natural disaster.

Missoula County was among many other "primary disaster" areas. Also on that list are Beaverhead, Deer Lodge, Flathead, Glacier, Granite, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Mineral, Pondera, Powell, Ravalli, Sanders, and Silver Bow counties.

"Farmers from many Montana communities are feeling the impacts of drought conditions. This declaration will provide much needed assistance to agriculture producers that have seen or will have significant crop damage or loss," Bullock said. "With low snowpack and rain, we know many other communities throughout the state are struggling with dry conditions, and my administration will work closely with the USDA to monitor conditions and take any appropriate steps to provide assistance."

Neighboring designated disaster areas include Broadwater, Cascade, Choteau, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Meagher, Teton, and Toole counties.

Vilsack said farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans or other FSA aid.

Click here to view the disaster declaration.

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