As Alabama experiences severe drought conditions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering financial relief to some farmers.

Parts of 16 counties in the northern and southern regions of the state are in extreme drought, and all other counties are in some level of drought. Making matters worse, there is very little rain in the extended forecast.

U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee. He said farmers in 26 counties are eligible for the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loan assistance and agricultural disaster assistance programs. Those eligible are in extreme drought or severe drought for at least eight weeks.

Joey Mason, of Mason Hills Farm, in Grand Bay, said the drought is affecting the timing of winter graze, and he has to supplement with feed and hay.

"It's the ability to grow grass and produce enough surplus grass for hay for winter," said Mason. "We're going to start selling off some cattle."

While the farm is continuing operations, Mason said no rain means less gain.

"Ultimately, it's affected our bottom line in an already tight cattle market," Mason added. "But I'm optimistic about the future because of the overwhelming support we've had at Mason Hills."

The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) provides funds for farmers who have suffered grazing losses.

The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides funds for transporting water and hauling feed or livestock.

Counties currently eligible for LFP and ELAP are Butler, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Madison, Marshall, Morgan, Blount, Calhoun, Cleburne, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Etowah, Lawrence, Limestone, Lowndes, Marion, Monroe, Walker, Wilcox, Winston.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows the latest conditions.

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