Gov. Bill Ritter announced today that the federal government has approved a secretarial disaster designation for dozens of Coloradocounties that sustained agriculture losses due to drought and freezes earlier this year.
“Colorado farmers and ranchers hit hard by difficult weather conditions will now be able to receive federal aid,” Gov. Ritter said. “I’m pleased this declaration has been approved. Colorado‘s agricultural community is a vital part of this state’s economy, and this can be an important tool during this difficult time.”
Gov. Ritter also is expected to seek a disaster designation for six counties for hail, drought and snow: Alamosa, Larimer, Pueblo and Saguache (for hail); Fremont (for drought); and Custer (for excessive snow).
Here is the text of the Sept. 15 letter from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Edward Schafer to Gov. Ritter:
The Honorable Bill Ritter, Jr.
Thank you for your letters of July 25 and August 7, 2008, requesting a disaster designation for 24 Colorado counties due to losses caused by drought and freezes that occurred in 2008.
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reviewed the Loss Assessment Reports, along with the additional information submitted by the State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency (FSA). Based on this review, USDA has designated that there were sufficient production losses in all 24 counties to warrant a Secretarial disaster designation. Therefore, I am designating all 24 Colorado counties as primary natural disaster areas, in two separate disaster designations, as follows:
Designation Number 1: Drought that occurred during the period January 1, 2008, and continuing:
Primary counties: Adams, Arapahoe, Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Crowley, Douglas, EI Paso, Elbert, Huerfano, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Las Animas, Lincoln, Logan, Otero, Park, Prowers, Pueblo, Teller, Washington and Weld.
Contiguous counties (In accordance with section 321(a) of the Consolidated Farm and
Rural Development Act): Alamosa, Boulder, Broomfield, Chaffee, Clear Creek, Costilla, Custer, Denver, Fremont, Jefferson, Lake, Larimer, Morgan, Phillips, Saguache, Sedgwick, Summit and Yuma.
Designation Number 2: Freezes that occurred during the period April 25 through
Primary counties: Delta, Fremont, Otero and Pueblo.
Contiguous counties (1n accordance with section 321(a) of the Consolidated Farm and
Rural Development Act): Bent, Chaffee, Crowley, Custer, El Paso, Gunnison, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Lincoln, Mesa, Montrose, Park, Saguache and Teller.
This designation makes farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for low-interest emergency loans from FSA, provided eligibility requirements are met. FSA will consider each application on its own merit by taking into account the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability.
Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.