More than half of the counties in the United States have been designated as disaster areas mainly because of the ongoing drought that has been ravaging the nation, officials announced Wednesday.
Disaster designations were signed for 218 more counties in 12 states, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced. That brings this year's total to 1,584 counties in 32 states; more than 90% of those designations are due to drought conditions.
The latest designations were in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming. The Department of Agriculture said that 50.3% of all U.S. counties have been designated as disaster areas.
Although the drought is expected to have some impact on food prices, the increases are months off. Meanwhile, the federal government has been concentrating on helping beleaguered farmers and ranchers.
Vilsack announced that the government is opening up approximately 3.8 million acres of conservation land for grazing and haying so that livestock producers can deal with shortages of pastureland and hay.