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Maryland Declared Drought Disaster

USDA was to make it official yesterday, qualifying farms for financial relief.

All counties in Maryland will qualify for federal drought assistance. That's the latest word from Maryland Ag Secretary Roger Richardson.

The formal announcement was to have been made yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to Maryland Governor Mark O'Malley. The disaster designation will help provide assistance and financial relief to Maryland farmers impacted by the severe dry weather and excessive heat from June 1, and continuing through the summer.

State and federal officials estimate Maryland farmers have lost 30 to 60% of their crops. Richardson says the designation makes Maryland farm operators eligible to apply for low-interest emergency loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency.

Affected farmers should contact their local Farm Service Agency for more information. Contact information, including the applicable Farm Loan Manager, is available online at Maryland FSA Offices, click on "County Offices" in the left menu bar.

While the Mid and Lower Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland appear to be the driest regions, data analysis from the National Drought Mitigation Center shows 97% of the state in at least abnormally dry conditions. Currently, 55% is in a severe drought, while only 4% appears normal.

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