USDA calls most of Calif. a drought disaster area

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - September 21, 2009

The declaration will clear the way for emergency loans to farmers who have suffered financial losses this year from the drought.

Farmers will be eligible depending on the severity of losses and their ability to repay.

The USDA says 21 counties are part of the primary disaster area, and 29 more are designated because they are next to counties where widespread losses have occurred.

The declaration comes as California farmers struggle with a third consecutive year of drought conditions.

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