Federal agriculture officials have designated about half of Georgia's counties as primary natural disaster areas because of excessive rains.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the 79 counties suffered damages and losses caused by excessive rains that began April 1. Farmers and ranchers in several dozen other Georgia counties that are adjacent to those counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance.

And farmers and ranchers in some counties in Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee that are next to the affected Georgia counties also qualify.

The assistance available includes low interest emergency loans from the USDA's Farm Service Agency. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the September 25 declaration to apply for the loans to help cover their losses.

More information and a list of counties is available on the USDA's website.

Tags: Georgia agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Georgia farmers, U.S.D.A.