Hutchinson wants disaster declaration as drought dries out Arkansas

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is asking U.S. Agriculture Commissioner Tom Vilsack for a Secretarial Disaster Declaration as drought conditions worsen in the state.

A map released by the U.S. Drought Monitor shows all of Arkansas in at least a moderate drought, and most counties are listed as abnormally dry.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agricultural, Hutchinson said the drought is affecting the state's agricultural producers. The letter was released Sunday in a Twitter post by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

"Hay production has stalled, with many producers not getting a second cutting, forcing them to seek alternative sources or reduce their herd," Hutchinson said. "Row crops are requiring significantly higher levels of irrigation which increases production costs and stresses irrigation equipment and water supplies."

The dry weather has also increased the chances of wildfires in some parts of the state. The entire western half of the state is considered at high risk for wildfires, according to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division. The other counties are considered at moderate risk.

"These 90 to 100 degree days with little or no rain have led to extremely dry conditions across the entire state," said State Forester Joe Fox in a news release. "We are seeing an increase in the number of wildfires and their intensity, and that's a trend that will continue until we see significant rainfall statewide."

Hutchinson said the dry weather would continue.

"Arkansas is experiencing the hottest temperatures in 10 years and recent precipitation and outlook reports from the National Weather Service predict above-average temperatures for the next 8-14 days with little chance of precipitation," Hutchinson said.

The National Weather Service is predicting most of Arkansas will see highs in the low 100s throughout the week.

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