United States Department of Agriculture Secretary, Thomas J. Vilsack has signed a Secretarial Disaster Designation making 19 Utah counties eligible for federal relief.
The declaration is in response to damage caused by extreme weather conditions such as drought, cold temperatures, high winds, fire, and freezing temperatures that existed in 2008 in the affected counties. The 19 counties are Carbon, Emery, Beaver, Box Elder, Cache, Garfield, Iron, Juab, Kane, Millard, Piute, San Juan, Sevier, Sanpete, Tooele, Utah, Washington, Wayne, and Weber.
The vast majority of farmers and ranchers in these counties have suffered crop and forage production losses of at least 30 percent, which qualifies them for disaster declaration. The financial loss is estimated to be at least $28.7 million. Some producers have been severely impacted by grazing losses and have been forced to liquidate their herds due to lack of forage.
High forage and feed costs as well as increased transportation costs will weigh heavily on an industry already facing many challenges.
Five of the 19 counties (Box Elder, Garfield, Kane, Millard, and Sanpete) were designated primary natural disaster areas. The remaining 14 counties are designated secondary disaster areas which also qualifies them for assistance.