Friday, January 17, 2014

Colorado Counties Declared a Disaster Area by the USDA

Drought Conditions in Colorado,
1/16/14 US Drought Monitor
On Wednesday of this week, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) listed counties in 11 states as primary natural disaster areas due to extreme drought. The majority of states affected by the drought are located in the west, with a few exceptions (Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Hawaii). The western states listed as disaster include: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Idaho, and California.

Farmers in these states have been struggling to sustain crop yields which puts them at financial risk. The listing ensures that eligible farmers can apply for low-interest, emergency loans from the USDA. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack shared in a statement, "[The] USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood." The USDA wants to guarantee that farming and agriculture remain an economic force in the U.S.

The past few weeks have seen record storm and snow falls for the east coast. However, a ridge of high pressure has been preventing storms from reaching the Pacific coast and providing them with needed moisture. These weather patterns are causing the droughts to persist and intensify, the U.S. Drought Monitor explains.

Poor snowpack is threatening states dependent on major rivers in the west. The dry conditions could also lead to an active fire season.

For more information, visit the USDA Drought and Disaster Assistance website.

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