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Drought Disaster Declarations Provide Aid Options for Colorado Counties

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Chris Sorensen

Disaster declarations by the United States Department of Agriculture and Small Business Administration are allowing aid to be provided to counties in Colorado and neighboring states.

Rapid expansion of drought conditions in Colorado over the winter have led to agricultural and small business damages and losses. Declarations by the agencies typically benefit both counties that are directly impacted by a disaster as well as adjoining counties. The map below shows Colorado counties eligible for assistance under various USDA and SBA declarations. (Story continues below.)


A series of declarations by the USDA, starting with announcements in mid-March, allow farmers and ranchers in Colorado to qualify for natural disaster assistance.

Baca county was named a primary natural disaster area March 8, making Bent, Las Animas and Prowers counties eligible for assistance. Counties in Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico were also designated as primary natural disaster areas the same day.

Twelve counties in Arizona were designated as disaster areas March 8, including Apache county, which allowed producers in Montezuma county, Colorado, to become eligible for aid.

March 15, Las Animas county received a primary designation, qualifying Bent, Costilla, Huerfano, Otero and Pueblo counties for assistance. Producers in contiguous counties already eligible from the March 8 declaration, such as Baca county, may gain an additional week to apply for assistance. Four Kansas counties also received a designation March 15, which allowed Prowers county producers to become eligible.

Qualified producers in the designated areas and adjoining counties can apply for emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency. Those who are eligible have eight months from the date of a declaration to apply for loans to cover part of their losses. Farmers and ranchers can contact their local USDA service center for additional information about the application process, or check


The SBA announced March 15 that small, non-farm businesses in 70 Oklahoma counties were eligible for low-interest disaster loans to help offset losses from reduced income caused by drought. As with USDA disaster declarations, contiguous counties, including counties in neighboring states, are also eligible. In Colorado, Baca county qualified under the declaration. Baca county received its own primary designation the same day, allowing Bent, Las Animas and Prowers counties to qualify as well.

In a separate announcement March 15, Las Animas county was designated a primary county by the SBA for drought impacts, which qualified Costilla, Huerfano, Otero and Pueblo counties for loan assistance.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” according to Tanya Garfield, Director of the SBA’s Disaster Field Operation Center-West.

Interest rates range from 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations to 3.58 percent for small businesses. Terms up to 30 years are available. Loans are based upon the financial impact of the disaster and do not cover property damage. Loans are capped at $2 million.

While economic injury disaster loans are triggered when the USDA declares an agricultural disaster, only businesses that are not primarily engaged in farming or ranching are eligible for the SBA disaster assistance.

SBA applications and additional information are available online at

Deadlines Approaching

April 17 is the deadline for eligible businesses in Kit Carson county, Colorado, to apply for disaster loans. Three Kansas counties were designated as primary disaster locations for wind, hail, rain and flash flooding that occurred in May and June 2017. Kit Carson qualified as a adjoining county.

March 30 is the deadline for small non-farm business, small agricultural cooperatives and most private nonprofit organizations in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Gilpin, Jefferson, Park and Teller counties to apply for loan assistance for economic injury caused by a May 8, 2017, hail storm centered on Jefferson county.