The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 69 counties in Texas as primary natural disaster areas because of losses caused by drought, above-normal temperatures and associated wildfires that that occurred during 2009. These 69 counties are in addition to 70 counties previously designated as primary natural disaster areas earlier this year for the same reason.

The 69 additional counties are:

Angelina, Crockett, Guadalupe, Kerr, Robertson

Atascosa, Crosby, Hale, Kimble, Somervell

Bailey, Deaf Smith, Hall, Lamb, Starr,

Bandera, Denton, Hardeman, Lavaca, Swisher

Bexar, Dimmit, Harris, Leon, Trinity

Brazoria, Duval, Haskell, Lynn, Walker

Brazos, Edwards, Hidalgo Madison, Ward

Briscoe, Fort Bend, Hood, Milam, Webb

Brooks, Frio, Houston Mitchell, Wheeler

Burleson, Gaines, Jack, Montgomery, Willacy

Cameron, Galveston, Jackson, Palo Pinto, Williamson

Castro, Goliad, Jeff Davis, Parker, Zapata

Clay, Grayson, Jim Hogg, Parmer, Zavala

Colorado, Grimes, Jim Wells, Refugio

"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 hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses to their pasture, hay and other forage, wheat and oats."

Farm operators in the counties listed below in Texas also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are:

Anderson, Cottle, Howard, McMullen, Stephens

Andrews, Crane, Hudspeth, Medina, Sterling

Aransas, Culberson, Irion, Menard, Stonewall

Archer, Dallas, Jaspe,r Montague, Sutton

Armstrong, Dawson, Johnson Motley, Tarrant

Austin, De Witt Jones, Nacogdoches, Terrell

Bastrop, Dickens, Karnes, Nolan, Terry

Baylor, Donley, Kendall, Nueces, Throckmorton

Bee, Eastland, Kenedy, Oldham, Travis

Bell, Ector, Kent, Pecos, Tyler

Borden, Erath, King, Polk, Upton

Bosque, Falls, Kinney, Potter, Uvalde

Brewster, Fannin, Kleberg, Presidio, Val Verde

Burnet, Fayette, Knox, Randall, Victoria

Caldwell, Fisher, La Salle, Reagan, Waller

Calhoun, Floyd, Lee, Real, Washington

Chambers, Foard, Liberty, Reeves, Wharton

Cherokee, Freestone, Limestone, Roberts ,Wichita

Childress, Garza, Live Oak, San Augustine, Wilbarger

Cochran, Gillespie, Loving, San Jacinto, Wilson

Coke, Gonzales, Lubbock, San Patricio, Winkler

Collin, Gray, Martin, Schleicher, Wise

Collingsworth, Hays, Mason, Scurry, Yoakum

Comal, Hemphill, Matagorda, Shackelford, Young

Cooke, Hockley, Maverick

Farm operators in the counties listed below in the adjacent states of New Mexico and Oklahoma also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

New Mexico: Curry, Lea, Quay and Roosevelt

Oklahoma: Beckham, Bryan, Cotton, Harmon, Jackson, Jefferson, Love, Marshall and Roger Mills

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas Nov. 2, 2009, 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 variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

USDA has also 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.