From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Pueblo and 14 other Colorado counties have received drought disaster designation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The designation makes farmers in the counties eligible for federal assistance, including Farm Service Agency emergency loans.
The Arkansas Valley has been in a widespread drought since August 2010, but some areas have experienced drought conditions since 2000. [ed. emphasis mine] Lower precipitation, decreased stream flows and declining soil moisture levels have degraded farm and rangeland. Farmers have thinned cattle herds and cut back on production.
Ten other counties contiguous to those also are in the drought disaster declaration.
“Farmers in Southeastern Colorado are facing extreme drought conditions that are devastating their crops and hurting local economies,” U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet said. “The availability of these needed resources will be welcome news for struggling family farms that have worked this land for generations.”
Bennet added the designation underscores the need for a comprehensive farm bill to give agricultural producers more certainty and stability.
The counties included in the drought designation are: Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Crowley, El Paso, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Las Animas, Lincoln, Otero, Phillips, Prowers, Pueblo, Sedgwick and Yuma. Surrounding counties are: Arapahoe, Costilla, Custer, Douglas, Elbert, Fremont, Huerfano, Logan, Teller and Washington.