Senator Michael Bennet announced today that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 7 Colorado counties suffering from severe losses due to drought as natural disaster areas. Mineral and Archuleta counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas and Saguache, Rio Grande, La Plata, Hinsdale, and Conejos counties as contiguous disaster areas. The designation makes farm operators in these counties eligible to be considered for federal assistance, including FSA emergency loans.
“Colorado’s hardworking farmers and ranchers continue to experience the devastating effects of drought and unpredictable weather patterns,” Bennet said. “These designations are the least we can do to help ease the burden of the hot and dry conditions these families are suffering from. We can—and should—do more. The Senate has again passed a full five-year Farm Bill, but the House defeated its own version. Producers in Colorado and nationwide doing their jobs every day are struggling with continued uncertainty and wondering why Congress isn’t doing its own job. If the House cannot agree on its own bill it should pass the bipartisan Senate bill and provide the relief our farmers, ranchers and rural communities are waiting for.”
These counties received this designation because according to the U.S. Drought Monitor they have suffered a drought intensity during the growing season of D2 (Severe Drought) for 8 or more weeks or are classified as D3 (Drought Extreme) or D4 (Drought Exceptional) regions. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for assistance. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers and ranchers with additional information.