U.S. Secretary of Agriculture has designated Albemarle, Buckingham, Caroline, Fluvanna, Franklin, Goochland, Greene, Hanover, Henry, Isle of Wight, Lunenburg, Powhatan and Rockbridge counties primary natural disaster areas due to reductions in farm production caused by drought and excessive heat that occurred this calendar year.

These disaster designations make farmers eligible for low-interest loans and any supplemental relief that might be provided by Congress in the future.

Many other counties have received contiguous disaster status and also may be eligible for federal assistance:

"Approval by the USDA means Virginia farmers in these localities are eligible to be considered for assistance," Governor Kaine said. "We will continue to work with other affected areas and anticipate the federal government will soon respond to these additional requests."

Disaster declarations make farm operators in both primary and contiguous areas eligible to be considered for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provided they meet certain eligibility requirements. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.

FSA will consider each application on its own merits by taking into account the extent of the losses, security available and repayment ability. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with additional information.