Posted: Jan 25, 2013 4:44 PM
Updated: Jan 25, 2013 4:58 PM
WESLACO - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared much of the Rio Grande Valley a disaster area because of extreme conditions caused by the persistent drought officials said.
The declaration will allow farmers and ranchers to request emergency loans to cover their losses. USDA officials said Valley ranchers and farmers already are applying for the loans.
Federal officials said farmers and ranches must prove they've lost at least 30 percent of their typical production.
"Farmers, God bless them. They do it because it's their way of life. It's a gamble for them every single year," USDA Loan Officer Arnulfo Lerma said.
Lerma said it takes several weeks for the loan-application process.
"(That's) the sad reality. We're so backlogged right," Lerma said.