Today U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman announced that in light of historic drought conditions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking steps to immediately help crop and livestock producers across New Mexico.
First, New Mexico will receive $628,588 from the USDA's National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for prescribed grazing, livestock watering facilities and water conservation practices. Second, USDA will transfer $14 million into the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) for eligible farmers and ranchers in drought-impacted states for assistance in moving water to livestock in need, emergency forage for livestock and efforts to rehabilitate lands severely impacted by the drought.
"Throughout New Mexico, we have been hearing from farmers and ranchers on the terrible conditions they face due to fires and drought," said Udall. "Farmers are suffering from depleted crops due to lack of moisture; ranchers are having to rely on feed, causing production costs to skyrocket and forcing them to reduce their herds. This is welcome news for rural communities across our state, and I appreciate Secretary Vilsack's swift action in providing much needed relief."
"Farmers and ranchers in our state and across the country are suffering terribly because of this devastating drought. With this funding for New Mexico, it is clear to me that USDA is hard at work trying to assist farmers and ranchers in their time of need," Bingaman said.
Producers throughout New Mexico have suffered significant production losses due to high temperatures, high winds and extended lack of precipitation. As a result of the drought, extreme fire danger exists across most of the state with more than 345,000 acres already burned.
Currently, farmers and ranchers in all 33 of New Mexico's counties are eligible for federal assistance with primary or contiguous designations due to moderate to extreme drought conditions - designations Senators Udall and Bingaman urged in a June 29 letter to Secretary Vilsack following Governor Martinez's June 27 request.
Today, USDA also declared Sandoval County as a primary natural disaster area. Sandoval County was previously eligible to receive assistance as a contiguous disaster designation, but due to severe drought for eight or more consecutive weeks during the growing season, USDA moved Sandoval County to primary designation status.
With a disaster designation, farm operators in these counties are eligible for Farm Service Agency (FSA) assistance, including emergency loans. Farmers in these counties will have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance.