The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved Governor Matt Blunt’s request to declare several Missouri counties natural disaster areas due to late September’s storm and flood damage to Missouri agriculture. The Governor says the disaster declaration will help Missouri farm families as they recover from the severe weather. The USDA has declared Butler, Dunklin, Mississippi, Pemiscot, New Madrid and Stoddard Counties as natural disaster areas. In addition Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Carter, Ripley, Scott and Wayne have been declared contiguous disaster areas and will also qualify for assistance. The declaration comes after more than a foot of rain pummeled southeast Missouri counties, destroying an estimated 25 to 50 percent of the cotton crop in some areas and leading to widespread ground saturation and flooding. In some areas corn and soybean crops were also affected.