Nevada May Get Another Disaster Designation

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For the second straight year, all or part of Nevada may be designated as a disaster area because of drought conditions that are hurting farmers and ranchers.

The U.S. Farm Services Agency in Nevada is gathering information from counties, and its state emergency board has tentatively scheduled an Aug. 16 meeting to decide whether to recommend the disaster area declaration to Gov. Kenny Guinn and federal Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman.

Roger Van Valkenburg, executive director of the farm service agency, said the general view is that the eastern and central parts of Nevada have been harder hit than the western part.

All 17 counties were declared disaster areas last year by Veneman, and Van Valkenburg said about $15 million in federal aid was distributed to farmers who were hurt by drought.

Van Valkenburg said Utah and parts of Arizona and New Mexico are suffering the worst in the West now, while Nevada and other surrounding states also are affected but not to the same extent.

Don Henderson, Nevada director of the Agriculture Department, said Tuesday there was also a federal dry milk assistance program in Elko and Humboldt counties last year. The dry milk is mixed with feed to help the ranchers with cattle feed.

Karen Grillo, director of agricultural promotion and marketing for the state, said the federal government authorized about 14 million pounds of nonfat dry milk to be distributed last year in the two counties. This year, the program has been extended to Lincoln County.

While the federal government now plays the major role in relief, a past Nevada governor called on a higher being.

Gov. Charles Russell declared Nov. 1, 1953, "Drought Prayer Day," according to Jeff Kintop, state archives manager. The governor asked the churches in the state to pray for rain.

Kintop said there was a major drought in 1953-54 and Russell asked President Eisenhower to declare Nevada a disaster area. There were delays until Sen. Pat McCarran, D-Nev., talked to the president and Nevada got its disaster designation, making farmers and ranchers eligible for federal help.