The USDA has designated 11 Minnesota counties as disaster areas because of the combined impacts of excessive rain, high heat, strong winds, tornadoes and an early fall frost this year. Wednesday’s declaration makes affected farmers in those counties eligible for low-interest loans from the Farm Service Agency as well as aid from other USDA programs. The primary declaration covers Big Stone, Chippewa, Grant, Lac qui Parle, Redwood, Renville, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, Traverse and Wright Counties. The covered period runs from April 1st through September 15th. Affected farmers can also qualify in the 23 Minnesota counties that border those 11 counties.