- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 4, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A dozen New Mexico counties have been designated by federal agriculture officials as primary natural disaster areas due to drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture made the announcement Tuesday.

The designation allows farmers and ranchers in many areas of the state - from Rio Arriba and Taos counties south to Lea County - to get assistance for losses and damages caused by the dry conditions.

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Officials say those in another 15 contiguous counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance.

In all, 27 of New Mexico’s 33 counties are affected by the designations.

The seasonal outlook shows drought conditions are expected to persist in New Mexico and much of the Southwest through June.

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