On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a natural disaster declaration for all of Michigan's 83 counties due to losses caused by the drought and excessive heat that began on March 1, 2012 and continues to affect much of the Midwest and South.

The declaration makes farmers in Michigan eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. The assistance includes FSA emergency loans.

Farmers have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. For further information or to apply for assistance, farmers should contact the nearest county FSA office.