The worsening drought has prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to designate 76 counties in six states as natural disaster areas, bringing to 1,234 the number of drought-affected counties eligible for emergency assistance.
In all, 1,369 counties across 31 states have been named disaster areas, the USDA said in a media release on July 25. The 76 newly added counties are in Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
"President Obama requested that USDA take the steps within our existing programs to support struggling farmers and ranchers, and we announced these new measures earlier this week," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
The declaration comes on the heels of the U.S. Drought Monitor’s announcement that two-thirds of the U.S. is gripped in drought, the worst since the 1950s.