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Severe drought results in disaster status, loans available

Staff Writer

Archuleta County was declared to be one of four counties in Colorado to receive primary natural disaster area status due to severe drought conditions. The four primary natural disaster area counties are Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata and Montezuma. Contiguous counties are Conejos, Hinsdale, Mineral, Rio Grande, San Juan and San Miguel.

The designation, announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on July 2, makes farmers, ranchers and small, nonfarm businesses in all 10 counties eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Concerning agriculture, farmers and ranchers in the affected Colorado counties (and in four counties in neighboring states) are eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the FSA, providing all eligibility requirements are met.

The USDA states, “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.”

Small, nonfarm businesses in the severe drought areas are also eligible to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans from the SBA.

According to Tanya Garfield, the director of the SBA’s disaster field operations center-west, “SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster.”

The SBA’s press release informs that “Small, nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.”

The deadline to apply for a SBA loan is March 2, 2015.

For more information on assistance, visit the following websites:

• Producers — disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

• Small businesses — disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or www.sba.gov/disaster.

shanti.johnson@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on July 10, 2014.