The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 15 counties in New Mexico as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by drought, high winds and wildfires that began Jan. 1, 2011, and continues.

 “President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to forage crops, pasture and wheat,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This action will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses.”

The counties are:

 

Catron                De Baca             Grant                  Luna              Roosevelt

Chaves               Dona Ana           Hidalgo              Otero                  Sierra

Curry                  Eddy                  Lea                     Quay                 Socorro

 

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in New Mexico also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous:

 

Cibola                          Harding                       San Miguel                  Union

Guadalupe                   Lincoln                        Torrance                  Valencia

 

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Arizona and Texas also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous:

 

Arizona                                                         

Apache                        Cochise                 Greenlee                           

                                                                                        

Texas                                                             

Andrews            Culberson           Gaines                Loving                Reeves

Bailey                 Deaf Smith         Hartley               Oldham              Winkler

Cochran              El Paso               Hudspeth         Parmer  Yoakum                                                                                                                              

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas June 4, 2011, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

USDA also has made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.