The U.S. Department of Agriculture designated counties in Texas as primary agricultural disaster areas due to damages caused by inclement weather conditions.

The counties of Hockey and Lubbock are designated as primary disaster areas due to losses caused by excessive rain, hail and high winds that occurred from June 1 through June 30, 2003.

Also eligible under the same weather conditions because they are contiguous are the counties of Bailey, Cochran, Crosby, Floyd, Garza, Hale, Lamb, Lynn, Terry and Yoakum.

Bexar County is designated as a primary disaster area due to losses caused by drought and high temperatures that occurred from March 1 through May 27, 2003.

Also eligible under the same weather conditions because they are contiguous are the counties of Atascosa, Bandera, Comal, Guadalupe, Kendall, Medina and Wilson.

Crosby County is designated as a primary disaster area due to losses caused by excessive rain, flash flooding, hail, high winds and lightening that occurred from June 4 through June 20, 2003.

Also eligible under the same weather conditions because they are contiguous are the counties of Dickens, Floyd, Garza, Hale, Kent, Lubbock, Lynn and Motley.

Parmer County is designated as a primary disaster area due to losses caused by excessive rain, hail, high winds and cool temperatures that occurred from May 1 through June 30, 2003.

Also eligible under the same weather conditions because they are contiguous are the counties of Bailey, Castro, Deaf Smith and Lamb.

Deaf Smith County is designated as a primary disaster area due to losses caused by hail and a tornado that occurred from June 1 through June 30, 2003.

Also eligible under the same weather conditions because they are contiguous are the counties of Castro, Oldham, Parmer, Potter and Randall.

Briscoe County is designated as a primary disaster area due to losses caused by drought, high winds, static electricity and heat that occurred from June 1, 2003, and continuing.

Also eligible under the same weather conditions because they are contiguous are the counties of Armstrong, Donley, Floyd, Hall, Motley and Swisher.

These counties were designated on Nov. 5, 2003, making all qualified farm operators eligible for low-interest emergency (EM) loans from the 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 the 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.

USDA has a variety of programs available, in addition to the emergency loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity. These programs include 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.