04.23.20

Gardner, Bennet, and Tipton Request Quick Approval of Disaster Declaration for Western Slope Farmers

“During an already disruptive time in our economy, additional stresses and disruptions in the food supply cannot be taken lightly.”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and U.S. Representative Scott Tipton (R-CO) are urging U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to quickly approve the request by Colorado Governor Jared Polis for a Secretarial Disaster Declaration for Colorado’s Western Slope counties impacted by the major freeze event on April 13.

“At the end of March, Colorado had reports that peach growers on the Western Slope were expecting an all-time bumper crop. Until now, fruit crops in Colorado had not experienced any damaging hail, winds, or freezes. Farmers in Colorado were excited about the prospects of a great crop year, perhaps the best in several decades. Instead, farmers are now reeling from this devastating freeze, and relief is needed,” wrote Gardner, Bennet, and Tipton.

“During an already disruptive time in our economy, additional stresses and disruptions in the food supply cannot be taken lightly. While Colorado farmers work to assess the true impact and damage from the freeze, initial reports show that at least half of the produce crop on the Western Slope of Colorado has been lost at the best, and total crop loss is a distinct possibility. We ask for your support of Colorado farmers as they work through the fallout of this weather event, and respectfully urge you to grant the request of Governor Polis to issue a Secretarial Disaster Declaration.”

The full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We write today to urge you to quickly approve the request made by Governor Polis for a Secretarial Disaster Declaration for Colorado’s Western Slope counties impacted by the freeze event on April 13, 2020.

Last week, Western Colorado was devastated by a major freeze that impacted close to, if not the entirety, of the area’s fruit crop. This is was one of the worst freezes this area of Colorado has seen since 1999. A conservative estimate of the impact of the freeze is a $50 million economic loss to the communities in Western Colorado.

At the end of March, Colorado had reports that peach growers on the Western Slope were expecting an all-time bumper crop. Until now, fruit crops in Colorado had not experienced any damaging hail, winds, or freezes. Farmers in Colorado were excited about the prospects of a great crop year, perhaps the best in several decades. Instead, farmers are now reeling from this devastating freeze, and relief is needed.

During an already disruptive time in our economy, additional stresses and disruptions in the food supply cannot be taken lightly. While Colorado farmers work to assess the true impact and damage from the freeze, initial reports show that at least half of the produce crop on the Western Slope of Colorado has been lost at the best, and total crop loss is a distinct possibility. We ask for your support of Colorado farmers as they work through the fallout of this weather event, and respectfully urge you to grant the request of Governor Polis to issue a Secretarial Disaster Declaration.

We appreciate your continued work and support for our nation’s producers. Thank you for your consideration of the Governor’s disaster designation request for Colorado.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.