The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 87 counties in Texas as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by drought and other disasters that occurred in 2009.

"President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to the area and serious harm to farms in Texas and we want to help," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This action will provide help to farmers who suffered significant production losses to pasture, hay and other forage, wheat, and oats."

The 87 counties are:

Andrews, Dawson, Jefferson, Newton, Sterling, Archer, Ector, Johnson, Oldham, Sutton, Armstrong, El Paso, Kaufman, Orange, Tarrant, Bell, Ellis, Knox, Pecos, Terrell, Borden, Erath, La Salle, Polk, Terry, Bosque, Falls, Liberty, Presidio, Throckmorton, Brewster, Freestone, Limestone, Randall, Tom Green, Carson, Garza, Llano, Reagan, Tyler, Chambers, Gray, Loving, Reeves, Upton, Childress, Hansford, Mason, Roberts, Val Verde, Cochran, Hardin, Matagorda, Rockwall, Van Zandt, Coke, Hemphill, Menard, Sabine, Wharton, Comanche, Henderson, Midland, San Augustine, Wichita, Concho, Hockley, Montague, San Jacinto, Winkler,Cooke, Hudspeth ,Moore, Schleicher, Wise,Crane, Hunt ,Nacogdoches, Scurry, Yoakum, Culberson, Irion, Navarro, Shackelford, Young, Dallas, and Jasper. Farmers and ranchers in the following Texas counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

Anderson, Cottle, Glasscock, Kinney, Robertson, Angelina, Crockett, Grayson, Lamb, Runnels, Atascosa, Crosby, Hale, Lampasas, Rusk, Austin, Dallam, Hall, Leon, San Saba, Bailey, Deaf Smith, Hamilton ,Lipscomb, Shelby, Baylor, Delta, Hardeman, Lubbock, Sherman, Blanco, Denton, Harris, Lynn Smith, Brazoria, Dickens, Hartley, Martin ,Somervell, Briscoe, Dimmit, Haskell, McCulloch, Stephens, Brown, Donley, Hill, McLennan, Stonewall, Burnet, Duval, Hood, McMullen, Swisher, Calhoun, Eastland, Hopkins, Milam, Trinity, Callahan, Edwards, Howard, Mills, Walker, Castro, Fannin, Hutchinson, Mitchell, Ward, Cherokee, Fisher, Jack, Montgomery, Webb, Clay, Foard, Jackson, Nolan, Wheeler, Coleman, Fort Bend, Jeff Davis, Ochiltree ,Wilbarger, Collin, Frio, Jones, Palo Pinto, Williamson, Collingsworth, Gaines, Kent, Parker ,Wood, Colorado, Galveston, Kimble, Potter, Zavala, Coryell, Gillespie, King, and Rains.

Additionally, farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous: Louisiana (5): Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Sabine, and Vernon. New Mexico (6): Dona Ana, Lea, Quay, Eddy, Otero, and Roosevelt. Oklahoma (8): Cotton, Harmon, Love, Texas, Ellis, Jefferson, Roger, Mills, and Tillman.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas April, 15, 2010, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

USDA also has made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.