The U.S. secretary of agriculture has declared a drought emergency in about half of Alabama's counties.
Gov. Robert Bentley and state Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan said the declaration by Secretary Thomas Vilsack makes farmers in 33 counties eligible for low-interest federal loans.
The drought disaster was declared in Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Bullock, Butler, Chambers, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coffee, Conecuh, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Dallas, Elmore, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Perry, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Talladega, Tallapoosa and Wilcox counties.
Farmers in 12 contiguous counties may also be eligible. They are Calhoun, Cherokee, Clarke, Hale, Jefferson, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, St. Clair, Shelby, Tuscaloosa and Washington.
McMillan said farmers in the eligible counties have eight months to apply for loans.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)