South Carolina farmers hit hard by excessive summer rainfall will be getting some relief.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack has notified Governor Nikki Haley he approved her request for a Secretarial disaster declaration for South Carolina counties that suffered losses due to excessive rains that began March 1, 2013.

The declaration comes a little more than a week after Governor Haley and Commissioner Hugh Weathers joined other agriculture leaders for a tour of one of the state’s hard hit areas, Dorchester County.

“I am pleased with Secretary Vilsack’s quick response to South Carolina’s request. The agriculture industry contributes greatly to the state’s economy, and this unusually wet summer has impacted the work of our farmers.

“I am grateful that Governor Haley recognizes the value of our industry and that she took the time to see what our growers face given the excess rains,” said South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers.

Secretary Vilsack has designated the following 36 South Carolina counties as primary natural disaster areas:

Aiken

Calhoun

Darlington

Greenville

Marion

Saluda

Allendale

Charleston

Dillon

Hampton

Marlboro

Spartanburg

Bamberg

Cherokee

Dorchester

Horry

Newberry

Sumter

Barnwell

Chesterfield

Edgefield

Jasper

Orangeburg

Union

Beaufort

Clarendon

Florence

Laurens

Pickens

Williamsburg

Berkeley

Colleton

Georgetown

Lee

Richland

York

The following counties have been designated as contiguous disaster counties:

Abbeville

Chester

Greenwood

Lancaster

McCormick

Anderson

Fairfield

Kershaw

Lexington

Oconee

A Secretarial disaster designation means farmers in both primary and contiguous counties can apply for USDA Farms Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

Farmers in those counties have eight months to apply from the date of the Secretarial Disaster Declaration. Interested farmers can contact their local FSA offices.