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VOL. 127 | NO. 150 | Thursday, August 02, 2012

Drought: Half of US Counties Now Disaster Areas

JIM SUHR | Associated Press

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ST. LOUIS (AP) – More than half of U.S. counties now are classified by the federal government as natural disaster areas mostly because of the drought.

The U.S. Agriculture Department on Wednesday added 218 counties in a dozen states as disaster areas. That brings this year's total to 1,584 in 32 states, more than 90 percent of them because of the drought.

The latest additions make drought-affected farmers and ranchers eligible for federal aid including emergency loans.

The USDA also announced ranchers may access some 3.8 million acres of conservation land for haying and grazing, and crop insurance companies have agreed to provide farmers a penalty-free grace period on insurance premiums in 2012.

Counties included in the announcement are in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 76 166 10,044
MORTGAGES 105 195 13,070
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 5 40 2,578
BUILDING PERMITS 216 370 23,894
BANKRUPTCIES 82 152 9,685
BUSINESS LICENSES 42 51 3,654
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 103 264 14,227
MARRIAGE LICENSES 29 53 3,116

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