WA: 15 counties are primary natural disaster areas

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SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Agriculture Department has designated 15 Washington counties as primary natural disaster areas due to extreme weather conditions in the first seven months of 2011.

Sen. Maria Cantwell says farmers in those areas are eligible to apply for USDA emergency assistance.

The counties are: Clallam, Clark, Franklin, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Klickitat, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Stevens, Wahkiakum, Whatcom and Yakima.

Agricultural losses were caused by the combined effects of excessive rain, flooding, below-normal temperatures, high winds, frosts and freezes. Tree fruits, vegetables, grapes, hay and wheat were particularly affected.

Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in support of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s request for disaster designations.