This summer, drought conditions across the country are affecting communities, and here in Iowa we know that firsthand. From the damaging and slowing the growth of crops, to the dry pastures and land for livestock, our farmers have been on the frontline of folks affected by this extreme weather . Obama administration officials are traveling to affected areas across the country, including a three day trip across Iowa next week from President Obama, as the administration takes real steps to help farmers and ranchers manage these devastating drought conditions.
Here’s what the President is doing to make sure these devestating affects are addressed:
- Just this year, the Obama administration has designated 1,636 counties across 32 states as disaster areas because of the drought, making all qualified farm operators in those areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans that can help pay for production costs, reorganizing operations, refinancing debts, and paying for essential living expenses.
- To make sure communities get the help they need quickly, President Obama has streamlined the process for designating disaster areas, making it faster and more efficient for both for producers and state government officials alike.
- USDA is increasing public outreach efforts to notify farmers and ranchers what services are available to help them cope with the effects of the drought, many of which can be found at the websites listed below. The administration is also providing technical assistance for crops and livestock across 19 states facing drought.
- The Obama administration is making loans more accessible for farmers and small businesses in need, which includes reducing the interest rate on emergency loans and working with credit unions across the country to increase loans to small businesses affected by the drought.
- Secretary Vilsack and USDA worked with crop insurance companies so that farming families affected by the drought now have a longer grace period to make payments on their insurance premiums.
- President Obama is committed to the ongoing success of ranchers by opening up new conservation lands to provide greater relief to ranchers in need of hay and pasture lands. He has also increased flexibility for emergency haying and grazing on conservation lands, which has decreased the penalty that ranchers face for opening these lands to livestock at a time when grazing land is scarce.
- President Obama is also working to increase the availability of feed and water for livestock across the country by lifting trucking restrictions to allow for shipping larger and more frequent loads of feed, and providing emergency assistance for moving water to livestock operations in need.
President Obama continues to fight for rural America, maintain a strong farm safety net, and create opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers. He will continue to stand by farmers during this natural disaster, to make sure that U.S. agriculture continues to experience one of its most productive periods in American history.
If you are affected by drought remember to:
- Look at the USDA website frequently to see if your county has been designated as a disaster area – if so you may qualify for emergency loans.
- If you have a potential crop loss, notify your crop insurance agent immediately. You are responsible for notifying your agent within 72 hours of discovering crop damage; continuing to care for the crop as you normally would and get permission from your insurance company before destroying, tilling, or selling any of the crop.
- Check and see if your county has been approved for emergency haying and grazing on conservation land.
- Contact your state Farm Service Office to see if your state is offering an additional assistance for farmers and ranchers.
USDA Disaster and Drought Assistance Website: www.usda.gov/drought
US Drought Monitor: droughtmonitor.unl.edu
USDA Agricultural Weather and Drought Updates: blogs.usda.gov/tag/weather-update
Frequently Asked Questions If Your Crops are Damaged: www.rma.usda.gov/help/faq/drought
Food Aid Disaster Assistance: www.fns.usda.gov/disasters/disaster.htm