Disaster Declaration Sought for Co Fruit Growers

Disaster Declaration Sought for Co Fruit Growers

Maura Bennett
Maura Bennett

The Colorado Farm Bureau is asking the USDA to make a disaster declaration for fruit growing counties on the Western Slope. Growers are calculating huge losses after a freeze in early April.

Grower and President of the Mesa County Farm Bureau Bruce Talbott, says he and Mesa County President Olen Lund believe the request is justified.

Talbott: “ Yes, that is appropriate, that is our level of damage. We have both concurred and approved of and supported the Farm Bureau seeking that designation.”

Temperatures dropped to a record low 19 degrees on the 13th. The freeze was a killer for most new buds on local fruit trees.

The total damage isn’t yet clear but Talbott tells Colorado Ag Today that he might be optimistic to say that 20% of the peach crop survived.

“I’m talking about the Colorado industry but, our situation is such that we have orchards in the middle of Orchard Mesa, we have orchards in Central Orchard Mesa, we have orchards in East Orchard Mesa, we have them in Pineland, we have them west of Palisade, we have them north of Palisade. So, usually our crop is pretty representative of the state crop. Just because we’re so spread out.”

A letter from Farm Bureau President Don Shawcroft to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says a disaster declaration would lend itself to the further expansion of other relief programming and that extra support for these farmers could be the tipping point for their businesses helping them survive a difficult time .

Colorado produces about 17,000 tons of peaches a year at a value of $40 million according to the Farm Bureau.

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