79 of 82 counties declared disaster

The Department of Agriculture designated 79 of the state’s 82 counties natural disaster areas, opening the doors for farmers to apply for federal assistance programs. Farmers in three other counties – Kemper, Neshoba and Newton – also will be able to apply for assistance because they are contiguous to those declared primary disaster areas.

Among the state’s five largest crops – soybeans, corn, cotton, rice and sweet potatoes – losses total more than $459.4 million, Mississippi State University’s Agricultural Extension Service estimates show.

Tuesday’s disaster declaration gives farmers up to eight months to apply for low-interest loans. They also can apply for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program, or SURE.

If approved for SURE, farmers could receive grant payments to help make up for revenue losses not covered by crop insurance. In order to apply for SURE, farmers must have crop insurance.