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Gov. Hickenlooper seeks additional federal disaster assistance

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 -- Gov. John Hickenlooper sent letters this week to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting disaster assistance for eight additional counties.

One letter sought drought assistance for Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Rio Grande and Saguache counties.

“Drought impacts are resulting in the loss of native grass, mixed forage, cool season grasses and alfalfa throughout the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado,” the governor’s letter said. “Losses are greatest to cool season grasses reaching 75 percent. The availability of surface water has resulted in many producers having to abandon alfalfa irrigation completely.”

A second letter sought disaster assistance for three Western Slope counties.

“Freezing temperatures struck the fruit growing areas in Delta, Mesa and Montrose counties beginning the last week of April and continuing through the first week in May 2011,” the governor’s letter said. “As a result, producers of apples and stone fruits in the counties suffered production losses as high as 95 percent.”

The declarations, if approved, would allow farmers and ranchers to apply for emergency loans if they are unable to obtain credit elsewhere.