Farmers and ranchers in 19 New Mexico counties will be eligible for emergency loans under a new federal disaster declaration stemming from the persistent drought.
The counties were declared as disaster areas Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They stretch from Union and San Juan counties in the north to Eddy County in the southeast.
In all, nearly 600 counties in 14 states were designated as primary natural disaster areas due to drought and heat.
As for New Mexico, nearly 99 percent of the state is dealing with some form of drought while conditions in the remaining areas have been classified as abnormally dry.
U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan says the disaster declarations will help but that Congress needs to work toward passing a new farm bill that reforms drought and crop insurance.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.