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2/9/2013 2:55:00 PM
Feds declare Yavapai a drought area
The Verde Valley and the rest of Arizona have been in a “drought disaster” since 1999. A new drought area designation opens up loans for farmers and ranchers.
The Verde Valley and the rest of Arizona have been in a “drought disaster” since 1999. A new drought area designation opens up loans for farmers and ranchers.
By Joanna Dodder Nellans
Contributing Reporter

The U.S. government has designated Yavapai County a drought area because of the ongoing lack of rains.

The designation comes on the heels of crop and livestock forage losses, and it helps local farmers and ranchers by allowing them to seek low-interest emergency loans from the U.S. Farm Service Agency. They also might be eligible for direct payments through the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments program.

"Maybe that will be a little bit of help," said longtime rancher Bert Teskey, past president of the Yavapai County Cattle Growers Association, whose family has owned the Dugas Ranch north of the Agua Fria National Monument for six generations.

Following January's drought designations for Apache, Maricopa, Navajo and Pinal counties, all but two counties now are eligible for federal drought aid since contiguous counties also are eligible. Santa Cruz and Cochise still are waiting for eligibility, the Governor's Office said.

Despite recent rains, most of Yavapai County including the Prescott region remains in a severe drought with the rest in a moderate drought, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor map issued Jan. 15.

The late January rains will help produce good spring grasses, Teskey said. The 2012 monsoon was the best in a quarter-century on his ranch. And cattle prices are holding better than expected.

"They're a lot better than three or four years ago, so we can't complain," he said, although he noted that most of the federal farm assistance goes to other parts of the country and larger operations.

The state first declared a drought disaster in 1999 and it remains in effect until the state gets three years of above-average precipitation, said Wendy Smith-Reeve, assistant director at the Arizona Department of Emergency Management. That declaration opened the door for ongoing federal aid.

Yavapai and surrounding counties have endured significant land damage and agricultural losses from the drought, Gov. Jan Brewer said late Wednesday when announcing the federal aid in a news release.

The Arizona Department of Agriculture requested the drought designations.

"This opportunity is very important for our farmers and ranchers," Arizona Department of Ag Director Don Butler said in the news release. "We've been facing this challenge for years - working to overcome hurdles from the lack of rain and snow. This added resource can help some folks through these tough times."

The Southwest has been in the grips of a drought since 1998 and scientists say they historically last about 20-30 years.

The federal Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above-average chances for below-average precipitation now through June in the Southwest.

The CPC also is forecasting above-average chances for above-average temperatures for the Southwest through July, and for most of the country in March through July.

"If dry conditions persist, soils will continue to be dry, which will in turn maximize the probability for above-normal temperatures in the spring," the CLIMAS (Climate Assessment for the Southwest) website notes.

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Article comment by: Kellie Kearney

Who killed all the water ?? Water is greatly abundant in Arizona and so are lies , cover-ups . There is a place called The Granite Dells that God placed above ancient water spring that ................

Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Article comment by: Two cents

When the federal government wants to hand out disaster relief even the hard core conservatives are standing in line. When the same government tries to be involved in this states water management those same people hollar and scream they don't need any federal involvement when it comes to anything involving them.
The so-called conservatives republicans in this state are bigger freeloaders and more two-faced than they will ever admit.
twocents worth

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Article comment by: Might as well pay the cattlemen in AZ just for raising cows!

The cattlemen use our public lands for grazing practically free, then need more $$$ bailout??? I haven't seen too many "poor" ranchers scraping by like the rest of the state.

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