Commissioners Send Drought Letter of Concern to Ag Secretary

July 28, 2020

Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC   20250
(via USPS & email:

Dear Honorable Secretary Perdue:

The past three years have been devastating for Colorado farmers, due to extreme weather events; 2018 (drought), 2019 (freeze) and 2020 (drought) and, according to credentialed agronomists, the persistent drought is now jeopardizing 2021 crops.

Thus, we respectfully urge the USDA to take immediate action to enact the following emergency measures to close gaps in the USDA safety nets:

TOP UP (Prevent Plant – Supplemental Payments):

Modify the existing supplemental “prevent plant” program to include drought, for crop years 2020 and 2021.

WHIP+: (Wildfire, Hurricane, and Indemnity Program Plus)2018 – Expedite payments for Drought losses, inclusive of resolving FSA issues delaying payments for producers with PRF (Pasture Rangeland Forage) insurance

2019 – Include “Freeze” damage, for the regional freeze that occurred May 23, 2019 that devastated wheat yields.

2020 – Include 2020 drought, and issue payments within 6 months versus the general two-year lag (2022)

It’s important to note, these hard-hit farmers did NOT realize any relief from CFAP (Coronavirus Food Assistance Program); their primary crop, hard red winter wheat, was NOT included in CFAP; other crops that were included (i.e. corn and sorghum) did NOT meet the criteria (bushels on hand, 01/15/2020). Furthermore, many farmers did NOT qualify for the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) as most producers pay workers as “contractors” (1099’s) vs. employees (W2s).

The USDA’s prompt action is imperative, to sustain our farmers, who indeed utilized good conservation and farming practices, but were met with extreme “multi-year” weather events that destroyed yields and prohibited planting of new crops.

Given normal weather and conditions, Colorado farmers are among the most productive and sustainable across the globe, contributing to the nation’s food security and Colorado’s $40 Billion/yr. agriculture economy, generating 173,000 jobs. However, the consecutive “multi-year” crop losses are causing catastrophic financial difficulties that they are not able to overcome on their own.

We emphasize how important and urgent these EMERGENCY measures are due to the fact that a great number of farmers are on the edge of bankruptcy with all credit exhausted. Respectfully, we urge you to expedite actions to ensure sustainability of these farmers; the standard “two-year” lag of USDA disaster payments, will be too late.

Thank you for your diligent efforts, we greatly appreciate all that you and your dedicated staff at the USDA do for American producers and rural communities. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices if we can be of assistance.



Wendy Buxton-Andrade, Chairman

Thomas Grasmick, Vice-Chairman

Ron Cook, Commissioner

Filed Under: Consumer IssuesLetters to the Editor


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