Wednesday, Gov. John Hickenlooper sent another round of letters to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting disaster assistance for eight additional counties in southeast Colorado in the middle of a severe drought, according to a press release from the Governor.
The letters sought drought assistance for Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Rio Grande, Saguache, Delta, Mesa, and Monrose counties.
If approved, farmers and ranchers could apply for low-interest emergency loans like the 10 southeast counties that Sen. Michael Bennet announced received approval this week, Huffington Post reported.
The drought impacts the counties in different ways, some "lose native grass, mixed forage and cool season grasses and alfalfa," the Governor's letter said. In some areas cool season grass losses are reaching 75 percent. In other counties freezing temperatures are to blame, striking fruit growing areas. Producers of apples and stone fruits "suffered production losses as high as 95 percent," the Governor goes on to state in his letter.
Gov. Hickenlooper already declared 10 counties drought emergency areas, Huffington Post reported in June.
According to a press release from Sen. Mark Udall, this brings the total counties designated agricultural disaster areas due to drought this year to nearly 25 counties in southeastern Colorado. In a press statement, Sen. Udall said:
I'm grateful the USDA is making assistance available to more affected Colorado farmers and ranchers. This will help our agricultural producers offset some of the heavy losses they've experienced because of the drought and spring freezes.