Big Island, Maui designated as drought disaster areas
The U.S. Agriculture Department has designated Hawaii and Maui counties as disaster areas because of at least eight straight weeks of severe drought.
The designation announced Wednesday means farmers in those areas qualify for low-interest emergency loans.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack included the two Hawaii counties in a list of nearly 600 counties in 14 states also declared disaster zones.
The designations are the first this year.
Honolulu, Hawaii, Maui and Kauai counties all made the list last year.
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows portions of the Big Island and Maui with extreme drought as of New Year's Day.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.