About 450,000 head of cattle have been lost in the drought affecting several states in Mexico, the National Peasants Confederation, which represents 5 million farmers and ranchers, said.

The Agriculture Secretariat, however, said only 15,664 head of cattle had been reported lost to the drought by farmers and ranchers, resulting in the payment of 27.4 million pesos (about $2 million) in compensation.

The losses occurred during the first 10 months of this year, the secretariat's general coordinator for ranching affairs, Everardo Gonzalez Padilla, said, adding that 512,000 producers were registered in the government support program.

Members have reported that cattle are dying "because of the drought that has affected the states in the northern part of the country this year," the CNC, Mexico's main peasant organization and an ally of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, said in a statement.

The states most affected by the drought are Guanajuato, Chihuahua, Zacatecas, Durango, Sinaloa, Coahuila, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas and Jalisco, where "corn, bean, sorghum and wheat" crops have been lost, CNC president and Congressman Gerardo Sanchez said.

About 12 million head of cattle, or 35 percent of the national total, "are practically skin and bones due to lack of water and feed," Sanchez said.

The government has provided 776 million pesos (about $57 million) in insurance protection to ranchers this year and distributed food supplements for 1.8 million animals, the Agriculture Secretariat said.

Most of the resources have been channeled to Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Durango, Tamaulipas and Coahuila, the secretariat said, noting that the drought had affected 23 states.