USDA declares county disaster area

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared Roosevelt, Curry and Quay counties, along with 12 other New Mexico counties, primary natural disaster areas because of losses from drought, high winds and wildfires this year, according to a news release from the department.

The declaration makes farmers and ranchers in those counties eligible for federal assistance programs. Producers in contiguous counties in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, including Parmer and Bailey counties, also qualify for the help, according to the release.

“Of course, in all these situations farmers and ranchers would rather have lots of rain and good pasture,” said New Mexico USDA Farm Service Agency Director Salomon Ramirez, adding that the programs help producers survive in their circumstances, however.

Farmers and ranchers are eligible to apply for low-interest emergency loans within the next eight months because of the declaration, Ramirez said.

Also, he said the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program is available to compensate farmers for losses in field crop production, and ranchers are eligible for two years of deferred income taxes on the livestock they sell because of the adverse conditions.

Ramirez said the disaster declaration has an indirect tie to the Livestock Indemnity Program, which provides compensation for livestock lost because of the weather, and the Livestock Forage Program, which helps with cost of feeding cattle after pasture has been destroyed.

Local Farm Service Agency offices were allowed to authorize grazing on Conservation Reserve Program land in May to help ranchers in Roosevelt and Curry counties whose pastures had been destroyed by fire.