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      Pike Co., Il declared natural disaster area because of drought

      Pike County, Illinois has been is one of 76 counties in the six states that has been declared a primary natural disaster area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

      The designation comes as a result of the ongoing drought and excessive heat.

      U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement on Wednesday.

      The designation will qualify farmers for low interest emergency loans.

      The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that right now 2/3 of the the continental U.S. is under moderate to exceptional drought conditions. http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.

      Vilsack says that the USDA is working to provide help to struggling farmers.

      Today's list of 76 counties brings the total number of counties designated disaster areas in 2012 to 1, 369 in 31 states----1, 234 because of drought.

      Lee and VanBuren counties in Iowa have also received the natural disaster declaration from the USDA.

      To see the full report from Secretary Vilsack just click here: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2012/07/0250.xml&contentidonly=true

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