Govenor Manchin today announced a drought emergency in 42 West Virginia counties, clearing the way for federal aid for state farmers.
The declaration was based on estimates made by the Farm Service Agency. It now goes to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will make a decision on assistance based on available resources and the severity of conditions.
A federal monitoring service said today the drought is now severe in portions of eight counties and moderate in 37 others. Parts of ten counties are considered abnormally dry.
State Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass says many livestock are in immediate danger because of water shortages. He says the state conservation agency will begin allowing farmers to draw water from flood control structures to fill portable water tanks.
Douglass also has requested 100-thousand dollars from the governor's contingency fund to help with farmers' water needs. He also will request that the USDA open up land in farm conservation programs for emergency grazing.