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21 counties designated primary natural disaster areas due to drought

Twenty-one primary counties in North Dakota have been designated as natural disaster areas due to continuing drought, according to a letter from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Jenny Schlecht / Forum News Service

BISMARCK—Morton and Burleigh counties are two of 21 primary counties that have been designated as natural disaster areas due to continuing drought, according to a letter sent to Gov. Doug Burgum from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on May 25.

Perdue said there were significant production losses, and such a designation allows farm operators to apply for federal assistance through the Farm Service Agency. Farmers, who have eight months to apply, must meet eligibility requirements to be considered.

"Our farmers and ranchers continue to work through the losses caused by last year's drought," said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. "These designations help ensure that assistance continues to be available as farmers move forward in their operations for this crop year."

Data released Thursday, May 31, from the U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that nearly 81 percent of North Dakota remains in at least abnormally dry conditions. Of that region, 53 percent crept back into the moderate drought category. North central North Dakota saw an increase in severe drought that rose from 6.7 percent last week to nearly 14 percent this week.

Year-to-date precipitation is at 4.25 inches, less than the 5.38-inch average, according to Weather Underground for Bismarck.

Natural disaster designations

Primary counties: Billings, Bowman, Burleigh, Dunn, Emmons, Golden Valley, Grant, Hettinger, McIntosh, McKenzie, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Mountrail, Oliver, Sheridan, Sioux, Slope, Stark, Ward and Williams

Contiguous counties: Adams, Burke, Dickey, Divide, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, McHenry, Pierce, Renville and Wells

Contiguous counties in adjacent states: Fallon, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan and Wibaux in Montana, and Campbell, Corson, Harding and McPherson in South Dakota.