The authoritative source on Colorado Governor Bill Ritter brought to you by the Editors at the Cherry Creek News and Denver Community Newspapers
Monday, February 12, 2007
GOV. RITTER CRITICIZES USDA DENIAL OF DISASTER DECLARATION
GOV. RITTER CRITICIZES USDA DENIAL & VOWS TO KEEP
WORKING WITH CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION FOR AID
Gov. Bill Ritter today criticized the U.S. Department of Agriculture's denial of a disaster declaration for 10Coloradocounties devastated by back-to-back December blizzards.
"I'm disappointed," Ritter said. "The USDA based its denial on criteria that are nearly impossible to meet given the nature of the storms. Our ranchers, farmers and cattlemen sustained immediate losses, and they'll continue to incur losses for months to come, that do not fit neatly into the USDA parameters."
The USDA bases its secretarial disaster declarations on 30 percent production losses rather than direct economic losses.
"It's difficult to ascertain those losses when there's still so much snow on the ground, when damage is still being uncovered, and when so much more loss is yet to come," Ritter said.
"I will keep working with our congressional delegation to pressure the USDA to reconsider," the governor added. "I also will continue urging the delegation to support legislation that will provide grants and other aid to help farmers, ranchers and cattlemen recover from the storms."
Ritter said Colorado Department of Agriculture Commissioner John Stulp is inWashingtonD.C.today meeting with members of the delegation.
The 10 counties denied the disaster declarations are Baca, Bent,Cheyenne,Crowley, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas,Lincoln, Otero and Prowers.
Without the USDA disaster designation, farmers and ranchers will not be eligible for other USDA funding or low-interest operating loans. The USDA has made low-interest loans available for physical losses in response to a request by Gov. Ritter.
In a letter sent to the congressional delegation Feb. 1, Ritter requested immediate action to make grants and other funds available. Those funds would help ranchers recover costs of purchasing feed, the costs associated with rescuing stranded livestock and disposing of livestock carcasses.
Ritter said today it will now be important for any congressional action to be independent of the USDA disaster declaration.