Natural Disasters

Half of U.S. Counties Now Government-Declared Disaster Areas

Drought continues

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Nearly 220 counties in a dozen drought-stricken states were added Wednesday to the U.S. government's list of natural disaster areas as the nation's agriculture chief unveiled new help for frustrated, cash-strapped farmers and ranchers grappling with extreme dryness and heat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's addition of the 218 counties means that more than half of all U.S. counties—1,584 in 32 states—have been designated primary disaster areas this growing season, the vast majority of them mired in a drought that's considered the worst in decades.