COLDWATER (WTVB) -The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared four border counties in Southern Lower Michigan, including Branch, St. Joseph, Hillsdale, and Cass to be eligible for disaster assistance because of the drought. Those counties have been placed on the USDA’s Primary Natural Disaster Area list, joining well over 13-hundred counties nationwide in that category. MSU Extension's Mark Longstroth says it means farmers in the area could get help with losses that occurred in June and July as the 4 counties are parched to the point that they deserve the same federal and state help that the fruit farmers in West Michigan are getting for the disaster they suffered in April. They have eight months to apply to the Department of Ag's Farm Service Agency for the low interest federal loans. Right now it’s projected that the losses in corn and other crops will drive up the price of everything from milk to meat by 3% to 5% next year.
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