Sevier County has been declared a drought area by the Sevier County Commission, and the declaration has been sent to state officials for further action.

Commissioners said this would begin a process to help farmers and ranches, who suffered losses because of drought conditions, to become eligible for state and federal assistance.Precipitation levels have been down about 3 inches annually during the past few years in the county. The long-term average precipitation is about 9 inches per year.

In the declaration, commissioners noted farmers and ranchers in the county have suffered for several consecutive years from extremely low rainfall and that studies show soil conditions and ground water supplies are deteriorating.