USDA has designated 597 counties in 14 states as primary natural disaster areas due to drought and heat. These are the first disaster designations made by USDA in 2013. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, “As drought persists, USDA will continue to partner with producers to see them through longer-term recovery, while taking the swift actions needed to help farmers and ranchers prepare their land and operations for the upcoming planting season. I will also continue to work with Congress to encourage passage of a Food, Farm and Jobs bill that gives rural America the long-term certainty they need, including a strong and defensible safety net." The 597 primary counties designated as disaster areas today correspond to the following states: Alabama, 14; Arkansas, 47; Arizona, 4; Colorado, 30; Georgia, 92; Hawaii, 2; Kansas, 88; Oklahoma, 76; Missouri, 31; New Mexico, 19; Nevada, 9; South Carolina, 11; Texas, 157; and Utah, 17. In 2012, USDA designated 2,245 counties in 39 states as disaster areas due to drought.