Due to damages and losses caused by the state’s ongoing drought, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated several counties in New Mexico as natural disaster areas, Wednesday.
The 12 primary counties are Bernalillo, Grant, Luna, Sierra, Catron, Hidalgo, Otero, Socorro, Doña Ana, Lincoln, Sandoval and Valencia. Other counties that also qualify for natural disaster assistance include Chaves, Eddy, McKinley, Santa Fe, Cibola, Guadalupe, Rio Arriba, Torrance, De Baca, Los Alamos and San Juan.
Farmers and ranchers of qualifying counties may be able to receive low-interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency so long as they meet eligibility requirements.
Oscar Rivera, FSA district director for eastern New Mexico, said the emergency loans open the door to recovery for any producer who has suffered production losses, either financially or otherwise. For example, he said the money could be used to purchase feed for livestock or to refinance property.
He said farmers heavily affected by drought, such as those in the Carlsbad Irrigation District, could be eligible for these loans.
The loans are based on collateral, Rivera said, and can have an interest rate of 2.25 percent.
Farmers have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans. The USDA says it will consider the extent of losses, available security and the applicant’s repayment ability. Rivera said the agency also has other loan programs available.
The local USDA Service Center, 1011 S. Atkinson Ave., serves Chaves, Eddy, Lea, Lincoln and Otero counties. For more information on eligibility requirements and how to apply, call the office at 622-8746.