Aug 24, 2010 2:02 PM by Greg Boyce
Gov. Bill Ritter announced Tuesday that Otero and Montrose counties have been designated primary federal disaster areas due to severe frost, freezing temperatures, and high winds that caused significant damage to melon and cherry crops. Ten other counties were designated contiguous disaster areas. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack approved the disaster designations in response to a request earlier this month by Gov. Ritter.
These disaster designations, dated August 20, makes farm operators eligible to apply to the Farm Service Agency, an office of the USDA, for assistance and loans. Producers should call their local FSA office for more information.
"I want to thank Agricultural Secretary Vilsack for responding quickly to offer aid to our fruit producers who have suffered financial distress because of severe weather," Gov. Ritter said. "I encourage growers in the affected counties to apply for federal aid to help them recover lost revenue."
In Otero County, frost and freezing temperatures devastated melon production. The initial freeze occurred on May 13. Hail and high winds struck the area on May 14, May 18, June 11, 12 and 14. The Otero County Emergency Board estimates that nearly 50 percent of melon crops were damaged or destroyed. Otero County was designated a primary disaster area while Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Las Animas, and Pueblo were listed as contiguous disaster counties, allowing growers in those areas to apply for certain aid programs.
Montrose County suffered freezing temperatures during the last week of April 2010 that claimed up to 100 percent of the sweet cherry crop. Montrose was designated a primary disaster area while Delta, Gunnison, Mesa, Ouray, and San Miguel counties were listed as contiguous disaster counties.