HELENA, MT (STL.News) After declaring a statewide drought emergency last week and following his request to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Governor Greg Gianforte today announced USDA has designated ten counties as natural disaster counties.
“I appreciate Secretary Vilsack responding to my request and designating additional Montana counties as natural disaster areas, but there’s more USDA needs to do now to help our ag producers,” the governor said. “With every region of the state facing severe to extreme drought conditions, I continue to call on USDA to declare the entire state a drought disaster area.”
“Our ag producers are experiencing devastating impacts to forage and stock water availability due to drought conditions,” Gianforte continued. “They need relief as quickly as possible and cannot afford unnecessary delays from the federal government.”
Hill and Wheatland counties have been designated as primary disaster areas, with eight contiguous counties also eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), including Blaine, Chouteau, Fergus, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Liberty, Meagher, and Sweet Grass counties.
To date, USDA has designated 26 of Montana’s 56 counties as primary or contiguous counties for disaster designation areas.
On July 1, Gov. Gianforte issued an executive order declaring a statewide drought emergency in Montana.
As of June 22, approximately 91 percent of Montana faced abnormally dry to extreme conditions. At the same time last year, approximately 52 percent of the state faced similar conditions.