Wichita — Crop losses to drought this summer are estimated to reach $275 million, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said Monday in a bid for a federal drought designation for Kansas farmers.
The governor also raised the drought alert level to emergency status in a 17-county area of northwest and west-central Kansas, with those counties joining 11 others already in that situation.
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, Sebelius requested that 73 Kansas counties be declared drought disaster areas. That would make farmers in those counties eligible for low-interest loans.
The 73 counties are Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Barber, Barton, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cheyenne, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Crawford, Decatur, Dickinson, Doniphan, Elk, Ellsworth, Finney, Ford, Geary, Graham, Grant, Gray, Hamilton, Harper, Haskell, Hodgeman, Jefferson, Jewell, Johnson, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Lane, Leavenworth, Lincoln, Linn, Logan, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Miami, Mitchell, Nemaha, Neosho, Ness, Norton, Osage, Osborne, Ottawa, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Rawlins, Reno, Republic, Rice, Riley, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Saline, Scott, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stafford, Stanton, Thomas, Trego, Wallace, Washington, Waubaunsee and Wyandotte.
The 17 counties whose alert level was raised include Cheyenne, Decatur, Graham, Norton, Rawlins, Sheridan, Sherman and Thomas counties in the northwest. In west-central Kansas, the higher drought emergency status went to Gove, Greeley, Lane, Logan, Ness, Scott, Trego, Wallace and Wichita.
Kansas farmers have insured 84 percent of their corn acres, 73 percent of milo acres, 83 percent of wheat and 77 percent of soybeans, according to figures compiled by the governor's office.
But crop insurance offset revenue losses by only 38 percent.