Utah Gov. Declares Drought Disaster

August 4, 2004

Utah Gov. Olene Walker has issued an Agricultural Drought Disaster Declaration for the state of Utah.

The declaration follows six consecutive years of below average rain fall and a projected $133 million negative impact on Utah’s agricultural economy this year. The governor is also calling for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare a national “Agricultural Disaster” for qualifying counties in the state.

“Utah remains one of the hardest hit states by this prolonged drought, and I am asking for immediate assistance from our federal government,” Walker said. “Utah’s farmers and ranchers are experiencing some of the driest conditions on record, and help is desperately needed.”

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, Walker seeks assistance to provide relief for the hundreds of farmers and ranchers who face substantial crop loss due to drought and record cricket and grasshopper infestation.

The estimated financial loss of crop and forage value to Utah farmers and ranchers totals $133 million. This represents about 30 percent of the historic value of these commodities.

Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food, Cary Peterson, reports that extreme drought conditions exist in 21 of the state’s 29 counties and that irrigation reservoir levels statewide are well below normal; some are experiencing levels that are virtually non-existent. Such conditions have qualified the state for special livestock feed assistance in the form of the Non-fat Dry Milk Program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The 21 counties that qualify for primary drought disaster designation are: Beaver, Box Elder, Cache, Carbon, Emery, Garfield, Grand, Iron, Juab, Kane, Millard, Piute, Rich, Salt Lake, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Summit, Tooele, Washington, and Wayne.

The remaining eight counties also suffer from drought conditions and are reportedly worthy of inclusion in a disaster declaration.

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