The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated seven counties in Kansas as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by excessive rain, high winds, hail and flooding that began June 1, 2011, and continue. “Kansas producers can continue to count on USDA to provide emergency assistance during difficult times,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “America’s farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation’s economy, producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow and out-compete the rest of the world. President Obama and I are committed to use the resources at our disposal to reduce the impact of this disaster on Kansas producers and help to get those affected back on their feet.” The counties are: Clay, Leavenworth, Sedgwick, Wyandotte, Doniphan, Osborne and Wallace Farmers and ranchers in the following Missouri counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance because they are contiguous to those in Kansas: Andrew, Clay, Jackson, Buchanan, Holt and Platte All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas Aug. 25, 2011, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.