The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Cumberland County as a primary natural disaster areas due to the drought. Farmers and ranchers in York, Androscoggin, Oxford and Sagadahoc counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance, the department said in a press release.

The five counties in Maine were designated natural disaster areas on Sept. 29, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency.

Eligible farmers have eight months to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses, the Department of Agriculture said in its press release. “The Farm Service Agency will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability,” the press release said.

In addition, the Farm Service Agency also has a variety of programs available to help eligible farmers recover from the drought, including an emergency conservation program, a livestock forage disaster program, livestock indemnity and a tree assistance program, among others.

Interested farmers should contact their local USDA Service Centers for more information or see www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program.

The federal government has declared a natural disaster in five counties, including Cumberland County, due to the ongoing drought. Farmers and others impacted can contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture for emergency loans or other assistance.