ARKANSAS, USA — Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson asked the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for a disaster declaration for the entire state due to the harsh drought conditions.
In a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack, Hutchinson cites the U.S. drought monitor's July 14 report that shows all of Arkansas in a drought with the hottest temperatures the state has seen in 10 years.
Hutchinson also mentions the National Weather Service's predictions of above-average temperatures for the next eight to 14 days with "little chance of precipitation."
Due to the drought conditions, farmers in the state have had trouble producing hay, heavily affecting cattle herds. Row crops also need more water to grow in the dry weather, increasing costs and stressing irrigation equipment.
In addition to these issues, wildfire danger is at a 10-year high, causing 53 of the state's 75 counties to issue burn bans. This month, a wildfire burned 20 acres in Sebastian County after a military exercise. Although nobody was hurt, the quick spread of the fire alerted officials to the dangers of drought conditions.
Hutchinson says these factors have put immense strain on agriculture, the state's largest industry.
There has been no word yet on Secretary Vilsack's response to the declaration.
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