- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Lea County a natural disaster area, making drought-stricken farmers and ranchers in the area eligible for assistance.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the designation on Tuesday, saying he and President Obama are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy.

With the designation, farmers in ranchers in Lea County and surrounding counties in New Mexico and Texas are eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.

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