From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., asked federal agricultural officials Monday to ease restrictive insurance guidelines on farmers in the San Luis Valley given the lingering drought. Tipton expressed his concern in a letter to USDA’s Risk Management Agency, stating that agency guidelines would limit farmers in the Multiple Peril Crop Insurance Program from filing claims because of less water being available. The guidelines for the insurance program would preclude farmers who made a claim in 2012 from filing for the same amount of acreage in 2013.
“Relaxing the Risk Management Agency policy for a single crop year would allow the farmers of the San Luis Valley to weather the ongoing drought, and will make an enormous economic difference in the region,” Tipton wrote. The loss of acreage claimed under the program could also be a blow to efforts to preserve the valley’s shallow aquifer, which has already plummeted to historic lows.
Last year Subdistrict No. 1, which takes in farms in the north-central part of the valley, paid farmers to fallow roughly 9,000 acres that would have otherwise been irrigated with groundwater. Farmers in the subdistrict also lessened or altogether eliminated the use of groundwater on nearly twice as much acreage because they had successfully filed planting claims.