PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Fremont County in Colorado as a primary natural disaster due to a series of freezes that occurred in April and May, and expanded drought assistance to nine counties.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday the freeze declaration will help hundreds of producers who suffered significant losses to their apple crop, and it includes nearby counties.

The department has also designated nine more counties in southern and southeastern Colorado as primary natural disaster areas due to continuing drought. They are Bent, Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, Las Animas, Huerfano, Prowers, Kiowa and Pueblo.

Baca, Crowley and Otero counties were declared disaster areas last month.

Farmers and ranchers in those counties are eligible for low interest, emergency loans.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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