HURRICANE, Utah – Some farmers in drought-ravaged areas of Utah are eligible for government assistance after the federal government declared a dozen counties natural disaster areas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making emergency loans available to farmers in the <a href=”http://goo.gl/ehjseo” target=”parent”>designated counties</a>, as well as some adjacent counties.
Colette Wadsworth is a hay and cattle farmer in Washington County, which is part of the disaster declaration area. She said already-severe drought conditions appear to be getting worse.
“The Washington County Water Conservancy District has let us all know that if it doesn’t start raining, we will have to start thinking of ways to really conserve and cut back on both our culinary and our irrigation needs,” Wadsworth said.
Farmers in her area rely on irrigation water from the Virgin River and rainwater collected in ponds, she said, and the Virgin River – part of the Colorado River system – also provides Washington County’s drinking water. Wadsworth noted that little rain last fall and minimal snow this winter have created a crisis-level water shortage heading into the next growing season.
The cattle producers in her area may be hurting worse than most, she said, because they often grow the crops that feed their animals.
“Drought really affects them, because it doesn’t grow any feed and there’s no water for their cattle, and so some people have to haul water. They have to trim their herds way down because there’s no feed for the livestock,” she explained.
If does not rain soon, she predicted that farmers in her area and across the state will take advantage of the government’s emergency loans.
A link to counties in the natural disaster declaration is available at <a href=”http://goo.gl/ehjseo” target=”parent”>http://goo.gl/ehjseo</a>.