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Western Slope counties receive disaster designation from USDA for April freeze

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In response to a request for a disaster designation submitted by Colorado to the USDA due to damage and losses to fruit crops caused by a multi-day freeze in April, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has designated Delta and Mesa Counties as primary natural disaster areas.

In accordance with the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, Garfield, Gunnison, Montrose, and Pitkin Counties in Colorado, are named as contiguous disaster counties and Grand and San Juan Counties in Utah are named as contiguous disaster areas.

A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to the primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans. 

Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm and the security and repayment ability of the operator. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.

The designation also activates the U.S. Small Business Association’s (SBA) disaster loan program for small, farm-related businesses to offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by the freeze. Small non-farm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may also qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million. The filing deadline is February 18, 2021. Visit the SBA website to apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications. 

Colorado’s Western Slope produces pears, apples, apricots, cherries, grapes, and peaches among other agriculture products. Peaches account for over 75 percent of fruit production in Colorado. The peach industry on Colorado’s Western Slope produces 17,000 tons of fruit and brings in nearly $40 million, serving as a key economic driver of Mesa, Delta, Montrose and Montezuma counties.