WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 18 more Minnesota counties as primary natural disaster areas due to heavy rain, flooding and cold temperatures from May 1 through July 1.

The designation makes farmers and ranchers in those counties eligible for low-interest emergency loans if they meet the eligibility requirements. They have eight months to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.

Thursday's declaration also applies to 31 Minnesota and three western Wisconsin counties that border the counties designated as primary disaster areas. It follows a declaration last month that applied to four counties in southwestern Minnesota affected by June's heavy rains. And it means farmers and ranches in 53 Minnesota counties are now eligible for disaster aid.