NOVATO, Calif. (AP) -- Marin County officials have declared an agricultural emergency because of drought conditions.

The declaration allows Marin farmers and ranchers to apply for federal disaster relief funds if they are made available.

Officials say rainfall is 28 percent below average and that ranchers -- who make up the county's largest agriculture industry -- have lost 30 to 40 percent of their pastures.

The loss of pastures can force ranchers to sell livestock earlier or incur larger feed costs.

Still, county officials say federal funds may not be forthcoming because the USDA Farm Service Agency says it might only fund those ranchers or farmers who lose more than half of their pasture or crops.

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