HILLSDALE, Mich. (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has included four Michigan counties in its latest list of primary natural disaster areas due to heat- and drought-related crop damage and losses.
Wednesday's announcement that Branch, Cass, Hillsdale and St. Joseph counties are included makes farmers eligible to seek low-interest loans. And Berrien, Calhoun, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lenawee and Van Buren are considered contiguous natural disaster areas, so they're also eligible.
The hot, dry summer has hurt Michigan's field crops. State and federal officials are keeping an eye on the damage.
The drought follows a blow to Michigan's tree fruit industry this year. The federal government earlier declared most of Michigan a disaster area because of damage to fruit crops from erratic spring weather, making growers eligible to seek low-interest loans.