The Box Elder County Emergency Board - backed by the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service Committee, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials in Box Elder County and the Box Elder County Commission - has asked Gov. Mike Leavitt to declare the county a drought disaster area.

If approved by Leavitt and the secretary of Agriculture, the designation will allow farmers to receive emergency loans to offset losses due to the drought.The application pointed out that precipitation is down 65 percent this year in the western part of Box Elder County. Temperatures have been 20 degrees above normal; 19 days have been above 100 degrees; and only .14 inches of precipitation has fallen in the past 66 days. More than 75,000 acres have been burned in wildfires.

Mike Jensen, chairman of the Box Elder County Emergency Board, said that an Emergency Livestock Feed Program has already been approved. This program can provide help for farmers who have lost more than 40 percent of their feed. Jensen estimated the actual loss in the area at 60 percent.