Half Of U.S. Counties Now Disaster Areas

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 has 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. Counties included in the announcement are in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and nine other states.