Gov. John Hickenlooper sent a letter this week to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack seeking drought assistance for Colorado counties.
"I am requesting a Secretarial natural disaster designation for all qualifying/eligible counties in Colorado due to losses caused by drought, low snow pack, excessive heat, and high winds that occurred from January 1, 2012 and continuing," the governor's letter said.
Typically, counties must meet certain crop loss criteria to qualify for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance. Once that crop loss criteria is met, the governor makes a request to the Secretary of Agriculture asking for a disaster designation for that county.
This year, because of severe drought conditions in Weld County and across the state, the Colorado Department of Agriculture has been working with the local USDA Farm Service Agency office in seeking a disaster designation before each county shows the minimum crop loss.
"We expect this process to speed up getting USDA assistance for the entire state," Hickenlooper said. "If the Secretary grants our disaster designation, a county can qualify for assistance immediately after the supporting documentation showing crop loss is certified."
Hickenlooper also sent a letter to Vilsack this week requesting freeze disaster designation for Mesa and Montrose counties.
"On April 7 and 8, 2012, Mesa County and Montrose County, Colorado, experienced freezing temperatures that have damaged fruit production in the area," the governor's letter said. "Mesa County suffered an estimated loss of 30 percent in grapes, while Montrose County has an estimated 85 percent loss of sweet cherries."