• Authorized up to $5 million in grants to evaluate and demonstrate agricultural practices that help farmers and ranchers adapt to drought.
  • Granted a temporary variance from the National Organic Program's pasture practice standards for organic ruminant livestock producers in 16 states in 2012.
  • Authorized $16 million in existing funds from its Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to target states experiencing exceptional and extreme drought.
  • Initiated transfer of $14 million in unobligated program funds into the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) to help farmers and ranchers rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought.
  • Authorized haying and grazing of Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) easement areas in drought-affected areas where haying and grazing is consistent with conservation of wildlife habitat and wetlands.
  • Lowered the reduction in the annual rental payment to producers on CRP acres used for emergency haying or grazing from 25 percent to 10 percent in 2012.
  • Simplified the Secretarial disaster designation process and reduced the time it takes to designate counties affected by disasters by 40 percent.

The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that 63 percent of the nation's hay acreage is in an area experiencing drought, while approximately 71 percent of the nation's cattle acreage is in an area experiencing drought. Approximately 85 percent of the U.S. corn is within an area experiencing drought, down from a peak of 89 percent on July 24, and 83 percent of the U.S. soybeans are in a drought area, down from a high of 88 percent on July 24. On Aug. 10, USDA estimated the 2012 U.S. corn crop to be the eighth largest in history, at roughly 10.8 billion bushels. In 1988, when U.S. farmers were impacted by another serious drought, total production was 4.9 billion bushels.

During the week ending August 19, USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 51 percent of U.S. corn and 37 percent of the soybeans were rated in very poor to poor condition, while rangeland and pastures rated very poor to poor remained at 59 percent for the third consecutive week.

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA's drought response and assistance.