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By Shanti Johnson
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated Archuleta County, along with fifteen other counties spanning the Colorado and New Mexico border, as contiguous disaster counties on Feb. 5. The USDA’s declaration came in response to losses suffered by farmers and ranchers in the area due to recent drought conditions.
According to a letter from USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack, sent to New Mexico Governor Susan Martinez and copied to Archuleta County, the declaration makes farm operators “eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans.”
Farmers have eight months from the date of the declaration, Feb. 5, to apply for an emergency loan. According to the USDA website, the FSA will consider each loan application based on its own merits, and will take into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.
Further information on the FSA’s emergency loans program, and on additional programs available to assist farmers and ranchers in the affected areas, can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov, or by contacting the local service center located at 505A County Road 600, Pagosa Springs, 731-3615.