DENVER — Tuesday, July 3, 2012 — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack notified Gov. John Hickenlooper today that 62 of the state’s 64 counties qualify for federal disaster relief because of drought conditions.
“The Department of Agriculture has reviewed the Loss Assessment Reports and has determined that there were sufficient production losses in 62 counties to warrant a Secretarial disaster designation,” a letter from Vilsack says. “Therefore, I am designating all Colorado counties, except Delta and San Juan counties, as primary disaster areas due to losses caused by drought, excessive heat, and high winds that occurred from Jan. 1, 2012, and continuing.”
Hickenlooper sent a letter last week to Vilsack seeking the drought assistance.
“We are very grateful for Secretary Vilsack’s speedy review of our request,” Hickenlooper said. “This federal disaster declaration will give farmers and ranchers in Weld County and nearly every other part of the state much needed relief.”
Typically, counties must meet certain crop loss criteria to qualify for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance. Once that crop loss criteria is met, the governor then make a request to the Secretary of Agriculture asking for a disaster designation for that county.
This year, because of severe drought conditions in across the state, the Colorado Department of Agriculture worked with the local USDA Farm Service Agency office in seeking a disaster designation before each county shows the minimum crop loss.
The federal assistance approved today includes Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. FSA will consider each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses, security available and repayment ability.
Local FSA offices can provide farmers with more information.