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County vegetation, crops impacted by drought

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The Livestock Forage Disaster Program will pay for a percentage of the cost of feed for livestock in areas experiencing drought. Photo courtesy of Scott Bauer, USDA. (Submitted Photo)

Drought conditions in 2018 continue to affect vegetation and crops in Chaves County, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture authorizing emergency loans for agricultural producers in the area.

The current U.S. Drought Monitor shows that portions of Chaves County continue to experience drought conditions, with the darker colors representing more severe conditions. The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC. (Submitted Graphic)

Some area farmers and ranchers also could be eligible for payments to compensate them for the cost of feed under a different USDA program.

The emergency loan program covers drought conditions from Nov. 1 to early 2019, said Anthony Chavez, Farm Service Administration state program specialist.

“The secretary of agriculture (Sonny Perdue) submitted a disaster notice,” he said. “And he designated 21 counties in New Mexico as affected by drought, as primary natural disaster areas due to drought.”

In addition, another 11 counties in the state, as well as 18 counties in neighboring states, are also covered by the New Mexico notice. Chavez explained that federal law enables emergency notices to include counties contiguous to primary natural disaster area counties.

The only New Mexico county not included is Curry County.

Perdue also has issued emergency notices for the loan program for 16 other states due either to drought, excessive rains or floods in March.

“If they are affected by the drought, they just need to come in to the office and speak with a loan officer,” Chavez said. The loan officer will determine if the producers meet the eligibility requirements established by federal law. According to a USDA announcement about the New Mexico emergency notice, the loan funds can be used for equipment or livestock, to reorganize business operations or to refinance debt.

The Chaves County office is located in Roswell at 300 N. Pennsylvania Ave.

“Very few people actually take out emergency loans, because it is a loan,” he said. “Now they do participate in the Livestock Forage Programs, which are based on the Drought Monitor.”

Created in 2014, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program will pay up to 60 percent of the cost of feed for livestock for one to five months, depending on how long and severe the drought conditions have been in the area, according to a USDA fact sheet.

That determination is made based on data gathered and analyzed by the U.S. Drought Monitor, a collaboration of the National Drought Mitigation Center of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Space Administration, who are aided by volunteer precipitation monitors who report about rain, snow or hail on their properties.

According to the online data and maps, the boot heel of Chaves County continues to have severe drought conditions (D2), with some western sections of the county reporting abnormally dry or moderate drought (D1). Conditions for the area are expected to improve from late March to late June, with the possibility of drought lifting in some southeastern areas.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.