USDA says drought benefits available in Miss.

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says agriculture disaster benefits are available in 69 scattered Mississippi counties because of drought and excessive heat from January through August.

Gov. Haley Barbour asked for a declaration for all 82 counties.

USDA says Friday that there were sufficient losses for a disaster declaration in 45 counties, including many in the Delta, in the central part of the state and along the Gulf Coast.

Federal rules also make contiguous counties eligible, so the benefits are available in a total of 69 counties.