DES MOINES -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is streamlining the process for farmers to apply for government disaster help as crops in many states burn up in the widest drought in nearly 25 years.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said more than 1,000 counties nationwide will automatically qualify for disaster assistance if they're in a severe drought at least eight weeks or were in extreme drought this growing season.
The department is lowering the emergency loan interest rate to 2.25 percent from 3.75 percent. As much as $39 million is available under the program.
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