Mesa County included in drought disaster declaration

Agricultural producers in Mesa County are among those eligible for emergency loans and other assistance under a natural disaster declaration related to drought conditions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated seven counties in Colorado as primary natural disaster areas due to losses and damages caused by a recent drought — Alamosa, Conejos, Hinsdale, Rio Grande, Archuleta, Gunnison and Mineral counties.

In addition, farmers and ranchers in 11 contiguous counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance, including those in Mesa County as well as Chaffee, Costilla, Delta, Huerfano, La Plata, Montrose,  Ouray, Pitkin, Saguache and San Juan counties.

Farmers and ranchers in the contiguous counties of Rio Arriba, San Juan and Taos in New Mexico qualify for assistance as well.

Qualified farm operators in the designated areas are eligible for Farm Service Agency emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration on May 25 to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.

FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the emergency loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from the effects of this disaster.

Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include operating and farm ownership loans, the emergency conservation program and emergency assistance for livestock.

Interested farmers may contact their local USDA service centers for information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.