BISMARCK, N.D. — Drought plaguing North Dakota farmers and ranchers has worsened over the past week.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows nearly 8 percent of the state in “exceptional” drought, the highest category. That’s up from 6 percent last week.

All of central and western North Dakota is in some stage of drought, with most areas in severe or extreme drought.

The conditions are ravaging pastures, hay land and crops. The federal government has declared numerous North Dakota counties to be disaster areas, paving the way for federal aid.

Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday declared a drought disaster for counties and tribal reservations experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought, along with adjacent counties. That could open up even more aid, including help from the North Dakota National Guard.