Hickenlooper asks for federal disaster declarations

Gov. John Hickenlooper has asked for federal disaster declarations for a total of nine Colorado counties.

This week, Hickenlooper asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for aid in drought-stricken counties in Colorado – Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Rio Grande, Saguache counties.

“Drought impacts are resulting in the loss of native grass, mixed forage, cool season grasses and alfalfa throughout the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado,” the governor’s letter said. “Losses are greatest to cool season grasses reaching 75 percent. The availability of surface water has resulted in many producers having to abandon alfalfa irrigation completely.”

Earlier, he asked for assistance for Delta, Mesa and Montrose because last freezes there hurt the fruit crops on the Western Slope.

“Freezing temperatures struck the fruit growing areas in Delta, Mesa and Montrose counties beginning the last week of April and continuing through the first week in May 2011,” the governor’s letter said. “As a result, producers of apples and stone fruits in the counties suffered production losses as high as 95 percent.”

The declarations, if approved, would allow farmers and ranchers to apply for emergency loans if they are unable to obtain credit elsewhere.