Drought disaster declared in Douglas
MINDEN, Nev. – Even as Carson Valley farmers are baling hay, Douglas County has been declared a drought disaster area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Extreme drought conditions extend through much of Washoe, and parts of Pershing, Churchill and Lyon counties. Most of Douglas County is under moderate or severe drought conditions, according to the U.S. drought monitor.
Farm Service Agency Nevada Executive Director Clint Koble said that doesn’t mean that agriculture has come to a dead stop.
“Some of those who have irrigated fields have come close to their allotments, some haven’t,” he said. “Grazers on the rangeland have suffered greatly. The real million-dollar question is what happens with the snowpack this winter and how it’s going to affect next season.”
Koble said the drought declaration on Tuesday was just the first step.
“It’s a mixed bag at this point,” he said. “Some crops aren’t impacted as much because some farmers have received all their water. But we don’t get a lot of rain in the summer, so the thing to take out of this is the importance of next winter’s snowpack.”
The declaration is automatic when the drought monitor hits severe for eight weeks or more. As of last week, nearly 80 percent of the state had severe drought conditions.
“It will stay that way until the drought monitor takes it out of severe,” he said.
While Koble hasn’t received any calls from Douglas producers, he said he is getting calls daily from farmers around the state with questions about emergency loans and how they can be used.
Nationwide, drought disaster has been declared in 1,055 counties in 26 states. Officials say the severity of the current drought has been viewed by some experts as one of the worst in U.S. history.
Interest rates for Farm Service Agency emergency loans have been reduced from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent. Loans can be used for feed purchases and crop restoration if eligibility requirements are met.
For more about the drought declaration, farmers can visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov.