USDA names Eddy County 'disaster area' due to crop losses from drought - Albuquerque Journal

USDA names Eddy County ‘disaster area’ due to crop losses from drought

New Mexican farms were devastated by drought conditions spreading across the state and the American southwest in recent decades.

The destruction led the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to identify Eddy County farmers and ranchers as qualified for federal assistance to recoup some of the loss.

Fifteen counties, including Eddy, were listed as “contiguous counties” sharing a border to 12 other counties, including Lea, designated as natural disaster areas.

The designations qualifies impacted farm and ranch operators for Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans to help repair the damages from lost crops, fires and other drought-induced problems.

Eligible farmers have eight months from the date of declaration, March 30, to apply for the loans, read a news release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The FSA considers each application individually, read the release, accounting for the extent of losses, and the applicant’s ability to repay the funds.

“Agriculture-related disasters and disaster designations are quite common,” read a USDA fact sheet. “Many counties in the United States have been designated as disaster areas in the past several years, even in years of record crop production.”

The USDA’s disaster assistance program allows the agency to release federal emergency (EM) loans to counties affected by a natural disaster, read the release.

Other emergency programs have also used the disaster designation to determine funding eligibility.

Eligible natural disasters are incidents when weather conditions, or other natural events that “substantially” affect farmers by causing crop or livestock losses, read the release.

Disasters can include conditions such as excessive rain or drought, high heat or below normal temperatures, and events such as mudslides, tornadoes and tropical storms.

An expedited program was instituted in 2012, records show, to provide increased assistance to victims of drought.

The program automatically designates any area as a disaster if identified for “severe drought” by the U.S. Drought Monitor for at least eight consecutive weeks, read the release.

For other drought designations that do not qualify for expedience, the county must have at least a 30 percent production loss for at least one crop.

Jessica Smith, FSA farm loans specialist said the program is essential to mitigate problems agricultural producers face throughout the year.

A similar disaster designation was issued in 2015 after Winter Storm Goliath collided with the southwest, freezing crops in the desert region and damaging acres of ranch land in New Mexico and Texas.

“Farming is a risky business,” Smith said. “When mother nature deals you a blow that you can’t recover from, (EM loans) come in.”

The program allows the FSA to issue loans up to $500,000 to farmers and ranchers affected by the disaster, able to cover home expenses, even groceries, if applicants can prove the event left them unable to pay for basic needs, and can put up proper collateral for the money.

“The disaster designation is what triggers all of these things,” Smith said. “Every producer is going to be different. They’re all affected, but in different ways. They just have to show their loss.”

She urged any farmers in the impacted areas to visit their nearest USDA farm loan office in either Clovis, Roswell, Las Cruces or Estancia.

“There are deadlines,” said Maurice Portillo, the FSA’s New Mexico outreach coordinator. “That’s the most important part. Let us get you started in the process. This is an effort to ensure our producers can sustain their operations.”

Farmers can also apply for assistance, without needing a disaster designation, through several other FSA programs, read the release, at

New Mexican counties designated as “primary disaster areas”



Rio Arriba

San Miguel




Santa Fe



San Juan


Contiguous counties also eligible for aid











Los Alamos


De Baca



Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.


©2018 the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.)

Visit the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.) at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Home » Around the Region » USDA names Eddy County ‘disaster area’ due to crop losses from drought

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Gwyneth Paltrow insists Utah ski collision wasn't her fault
Around the Region
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- Gwyneth ... PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- Gwyneth Paltrow insisted Friday on the witness stand that a 2016 ski collision at an upscale Utah ski resort ...
After Denver school shooting, an outcry erupts over security
ABQnews Seeker
DENVER (AP) -- Outraged Denver students ... DENVER (AP) -- Outraged Denver students and parents demanded better school security and pushed for tighter firearm controls Thursday, a day after a 17-year-old ...
New Mexico tribe keeps title to portion of national ...
ABQnews Seeker
10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals issues ... 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals issues a split ruling in the case brought by Jemez Pueblo over lands it was seeking to reclaim in ...
Court: Arizona governor not required to carry out execution
Around the Region
PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Supreme ... PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that state law doesn't require Gov. Katie Hobbs to carry out the April 6 execution ...
Arizona court declines most of Lake's appeal over gov's ...
Around the Region
PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Supreme ... PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Supreme Court has declined to hear most of Republican Kari Lake's appeal in a challenge of her defeat in ...
Rare tornado near Los Angeles rips building roofs; 1 ...
Around the Region
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A rare ... LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A rare tornado touched down in a Los Angeles suburb, ripping roofs off a line of commercial buildings and sending ...
Body found near Denver high school shooting suspect's car
Around the Region
DENVER (AP) -- A body was ... DENVER (AP) -- A body was found Wednesday night in the Colorado woods near the abandoned car that belonged to a 17-year-old student accused ...
Former Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly 'put others first'
ABQnews Seeker
Former Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly ... Former Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly died Wednesday after a long illness, according to a family spokesman. He was 75.
Judge halts Wyoming abortion ban days after it took ...
Around the Region
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- Abortion will ... CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- Abortion will again be legal in Wyoming -- at least for now -- after a judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked ...