Disaster Declaration Issued for Local New Mexico Counties

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared seven New Mexico counties as disaster areas after losses due to severe drought and high winds.

The designation covers Chaves, Eddy, Lincoln, Roosevelt, DeBaca, Lea and Otero counties. The USDA also named Dona Ana, Curry, Guadalupe, Sierra, Torrance, Quay and Socorro counties as contiguous disaster counties.

Farmers in all 14 counties are eligible to apply for financial assistance from the USDA's Farm Service Agency. Assistance includes emergency loans and a supplemental revenue assistance payments program.

Gov. Bill Richardson, who announced the designations, says they will allow for some much-needed relief for farming and ranching families.