New Mexico – U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 23 New Mexico counties eligible for disaster assistance due to severe drought conditions. The Senators wrote a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to take this action.
The following 15 counties were made eligible for USDA assistance due to severe drought conditions: Chaves, Catron, Curry, DeBaca, Do a Ana, Eddy, Grant, Hidalgo, Lea, Luna, Otero, Quay, Roosevelt, Sierra, and Socorro. The counties of Cibola, Guadalupe, Harding, Lincoln, San Miguel, Torrance, Union and Valencia were made eligible for assistance due to their proximity to the other counties.
A USDA disaster declaration, like the one granted today to these 23 counties, allows farm operators to apply to the Farm Service Agency for emergency loans and supplemental revenue assistance payments. Farmers in these counties have eight months from today to apply for emergency loan assistance.
Additionally, at the Senators' urging, the USDA today approved an emergency application that allows ranchers to graze their livestock on lands in DeBaca County not typically used for grazing. Over the past two weeks, the Senators have also announced approval of emergency grazing on land in Harding, Lea, Quay, Roosevelt and Union, and Curry counties, for a total of seven counties.
"The USDA continues to respond quickly to the needs of farmers and ranchers in our state, whose livelihoods are being threatened during this terrible drought," Bingaman said.
"New Mexico has been ravaged by drought and extreme temperatures. Our farmers and ranchers are struggling to provide water for their crops and grass for their livestock to graze. I applaud the USDA for addressing the issue and giving some relief to the farmers and ranchers who rely on their land, crops and animals to provide for themselves, their families, and our state," Udall said.