WASHINGTON – An additional 76 counties in six states have been declared primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by drought conditions, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The additional counties are in Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin. USDA said the US Drought Monitor currently reports that two-thirds of the continental US is in a moderate to exceptional drought. USDA has designated 1,369 counties across 31 states as disaster areas, with 1,234 designated due to drought.

Farm operators in designated counties are eligible for low-interest emergency loans. As the Secretary of Agriculture, Vilsack is authorized to designate disaster counties to make disaster assistance programs available to farmers and ranchers.