The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday that it has added two additional Colorado counties, Delta and Montrose, to the list of primary natural disaster areas, qualifying them for natural disaster assistance. The designations are due to losses and damages cause by the recent, and ongoing, drought.
Farmers and ranchers in the contiguous counties of Mesa and Ouray in Colorado, and Grand and San Juan in Utah, have already qualified for natural disaster assistance.
The two new designations were already on a watch list of contiguous counties identified as being in severe drought conditions. Eight Colorado counties remain on the list, including Bent, Crowley, Garfield, Gunnison, Kiowa, Las Animas, Pitkin and Pueblo counties.
The USDA is reporting that drought is expanding across Colorado and Utah. According to an April 17 report, abnormal dryness or drought are currently affecting approximately 4,169,000 people in Colorado, or about 83% of the state’s population. Much of Chaffee County continues to fall into the moderate drought rating. This is a significant increase over one year ago, when the county benefited from a high snow pack winter season.
Farmers and ranchers in primary natural disaster areas will have eight months from the April 26 declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.
The FSA has a variety of programs available to to help eligible farmers recover from major drought impacts. More information about these and other assistance programs is available at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.