NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says drought during the growing season has made farmers in most of Texas, all of Louisiana and parts of Arkansas and Mississippi eligible to apply for federal aid.

The department’s Farm Service Agency says low-interest emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of equipment or livestock. They can also be used to reorganize a farming operation or refinance certain debts.

The agency will consider the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

The agency says 60 Louisiana parishes are primary disaster areas because of drought, and the other four — Orleans, St. Tammany, Vernon and Washington — are adjacent to such parishes.

USDA declares drought disasters if a county is under extreme or exceptional drought, or has had at least eight straight weeks of severe drought.

In Texas, 216 of the state's 254 counties are primary drought disaster areas and 20 others border such counties, FSA state outreach coordinator Joshua Coleman said Friday.

Twenty-three Mississippi counties and 20 in Arkansas are primary disaster areas, with farmers and ranchers eligible to apply for loans in another 13 counties in Mississippi and 11 in Arkansas, according to news releases.

Application deadlines vary according to when a county was declared an agricultural disaster area. That and other details are available on the Farm Service Agency website,