Low water in dry conditions Colorado Wolford Mountain Reservoir drought

Wolford Mountain Reservoir in Grand County in a 2015 photo.

Last Tuesday, for the second week, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that Colorado had entered its second week drought-free, the first time the state had been clear of drought since monitoring of drought conditions began in 2000.

While Colorado is out of drought for now, farmers are still recovering from the last two years of drought.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced that 28 Colorado counties have been declared primary disaster areas, and another 11 are also eligible for drought assistance. 

Farmers in those affected counties now have until Jan. 30, 2020, to apply for loans, including emergency loans, from the Farm Service Agency

Colorado's Farm Service Agency is run by former state Rep. Clarice Navarro.

The 28 counties are all on the Western Slope and in the San Luis Valley.

The 11 additional counties, which includes Boulder, Larimer, Jefferson and Park counties, are so designated because they adjoin the 28 primary counties declared for the drought assistance.

The declaration reflects just how bad the drought was in 2018 for Colorado. In 2017, the drought declaration covered just seven primary counties and 11 contiguous counties. Colorado's drought in 2018 was the fourth worst on record.

According to a fact sheet from the FSA, emergency loans can:

  • Restore or replace essential property;
  • Pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year;
  • Pay essential family living expenses;
  • Reorganize the farming operation; and
  • Refinance certain debts.

Loans are capped at $500,000 and those who apply must be able to demonstrate at least 30 percent losses in crop production, a physical loss to livestock or livestock products, or real estate.

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