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Carbon, 20 counties listed in Walker's drought declaration

Gov. Olene Walker has issued an agricultural drought declaration for the state of Utah.

The declaration follows six consecutive years of below average rainfall and a projected $133 million negative impact on Utah's agricultural economy din 2004.

The governor is also calling for the United States Department of Agriculture to declare a national agricultural disaster for the qualifying counties in the state.

"Utah remains one of the hardest hit states by this prolonged drought and I am asking for immediate assistance from our federal government," pointed out Walker.

"Utah's farmers and ranchers are experiencing some of the driest conditions on record, and help is desperately needed," continued the governor

In a letter written to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, Walker requested the federal government's assistance to provide relief for the hundreds of farmers and ranchers who face substantial crop loss due to drought along with the record cricket and grasshopper infestation.

The estimated financial loss of crop and forage value to Utah farmers and ranchers totals $133 million.

The projected financial losses represent approximately 30 percent of the historic value of the agricultural commodities produced at locations in the Castle Valley region and throughout the state.

Utah commissioner of agriculture and food Cary Peterson reports that extreme drought conditions exist in 21 of the state's 29 counties.

In addition, irrigation reservoir levels statewide are significantly below normal. And some of the reservoirs are experiencing levels that are virtually non-existent.

The drought conditions have qualified the state for livestock feed assistance in the form of the non-fat dry milk program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Utah FSA damage report estimates that agrigultural producers in Carbon County have suffered $1,240,000 in damages as a direct result of the drought conditions.

In addition to Carbon, the Utah counties qualifying for primary drought disaster designation include:

Beaver, $2,087,000.

Box Elder, $20,151,000

Cache, $26,128,000.

Emery, $3,607,000

Garfield, $3,891,000

Grand, $523,000

Iron, $5,202,000

Juab, $3,224,000

Kane, $1,765,000

Millard, $18,188,000

Piute, $2,632,000

Rich, $5,193,000

Salt Lake, $524,000

San Juan, $1,061,000

Sanpete, $11,497,000

Sevier, $7,282,000

Summit, $7,725,00

Tooele, $3,999,000

Washington, $2,385,000

Wayne, $3,877,000

The remaining eight counties also suffer from drought conditions and are worthy of inclusion in a disaster declaration, the report concluded.

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