Senator Michael Bennet announced today that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 15 Colorado counties suffering from severe losses as a result of drought as natural disaster areas. Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Crowley, El Paso, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Las Animas, Lincoln, Otero, Phillips, Prowers, Pueblo, Sedgwick, and Yuma counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas. The surrounding counties of Arapahoe, Costilla, Custer, Douglas, Elbert, Fremont, Huerfano, Logan, Teller, and Washington were announced as contiguous disaster areas. The designation makes farm operators in these counties eligible to be considered for federal assistance, including FSA (Farm Service Agency) emergency loans.
“Farmers in southeastern Colorado are facing extreme drought conditions that are devastating their crops and hurting local economies,” Bennet said. “The availability of these needed resources will be welcome news for struggling family farms that have worked this land for generations. It is also another reminder of the importance of passing a comprehensive Farm Bill. Ranchers and producers in our state are facing unprecedented obstacles and are depending on the certainty and stability that comes with a long term bill.”
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.