BISMARCK — The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved Friday, Nov. 8, disaster designations for 47 North Dakota counties dealing with severe flooding and major crop losses. The approval clears the path for farmers in hard-hit areas to apply for federal relief.

Gov. Doug Burgum initially submitted the request for the designation to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue at the beginning of the month.

The designations make farmers in the declared counties and those adjacent eligible to receive federal loans under the Farm Services Agency's Emergency Farm Loan Program and and the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Loan Program for farm-related business, according to a news release. Producers are also eligible to apply for relief via the federal Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program.

"We deeply appreciate Secretary Perdue’s quick response to our request because help can’t come soon enough for our farmers and ranchers facing one of the most difficult and stressful seasons on record," Burgum said in a news release.

To qualify for the designation, a county must have experienced a minimum 30% production loss of at least one crop due to flooding. Of the 47 counties included in the designation, 45 met the threshold. The other two — Morton and Billings — were still eligible for the designation "because of the inability to secure commercial financing to cover losses," according to the release.

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The six counties in the state that did not receive the designation — Barnes, Burleigh, Dickey, Logan, McLean and Richland — requested a deferral to determine the severity of the crop losses.

Burgum signed an order declaring a statewide flood emergency Monday, Oct. 21. A total of 22 counties and six cities, including West Fargo, Jamestown and Grand Forks, independently declared flooding emergencies, Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki said last week.

Farmers and ranchers seeking assistance can find more information at