Drought conditions are being experienced in about 61 percent of the contiguous United States, the highest percentage in the 12-year record of the U.S. Drought Monitor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
"Widespread deterioration and expansion of dryness and drought" in the Midwest, northwestern Ohio Valley and southern Great Plains is the result of unusually high temperatures and a lack of any significant rainfall, the drought monitor reported.
The National Climatic Data Center said the past 12 months have been the warmest the United States has experienced since record-keeping began in 1895.
A number of areas in the southern Midwest are reporting the poorest conditions for farming and livestock for June since 1988.
A county is generally considered a natural disaster area if it has suffered severe drought for eight consecutive weeks.
If so declared, farmers in a county can apply for low interest emergency loans from the Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency.