Southeastern Colorado farmers and ranchers can expect some federal assistance to help them deal with the ongoing drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 15 counties in Colorado as primary natural disaster areas.

The designation means that eligible farmers can qualify for low-interest, emergency loans.

Farmers in another 15 adjacent counties can also qualify for assistance.

Colorado’s Farm Service Agency Director Leland Swenson says what’s significant about this aid is that it lasts until mid-September of this 2014. 

“As spring comes around and we see what kind of drought conditions still exist, producers will be able to assess what their production losses may be and we’ll then be able to assess what kind of other assistance may be available," Swenson said.

Swenson also said the area hit the hardest by the floods hasn’t seen any precipitation for eight consecutive weeks.

Because of the drought, Swenson said farmers are also dealing with dirt storms.

"Dirt buildup along fence lines and in ditches and in irrigation canals and the impact can just continue to increase," Swenson said.

Also included in the disaster designation are 11 other states including New Mexico, Utah and Oklahoma.