Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pledged his commitment to the nation's farmers, ranchers and rural communities that USDA would continue to work to deliver assistance to those affected by recent extreme weather, including floods, drought, fires and tornadoes. Vilsack said that USDA would work to offer flexibility to producers and encouraged producers to contact their local county or state USDA Service Center or Farm Service Agency office for assistance. Vilsack also announced additional flexibility in the Conservation Reserve Program that will assist producers struggling from drought in a number of states.
"America's farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation's economy and our values, and my heart goes out to all who are facing hardships because of severe weather and natural disasters," said Vilsack. "At USDA, we are working tirelessly to get assistance to folks who need it and are searching for flexibility in our programs to help farmers and ranchers in these difficult times. We will continue to listen to producers' concerns and, whenever possible, offer assistance to help put people on the road to recovery as quickly as possible."
Vilsack has issued disaster designations for 547 counties in 30 states. So far, producers have received $693 million in indemnity payments to help recover from disasters, including more than $520 million to those affected by drought and $88 million to those affected by flooding. Additional assistance for livestock producers affected by the drought comes from the Livestock Forage Program which has already provided $114 million nationwide and over $50 million in Texas, $24 million in Oklahoma, and $11 million in New Mexico. This timely assistance helps ranchers purchase feed for their livestock when they need it most.
USDA has also offered more than $30 million in emergency loans to help about 280 producers recover from production and physical losses due to disaster. To provide producers additional flexibility, USDA has contacted all current loan-holders in disaster affected counties and offered them the opportunity for a 'disaster set-aside' – permission to put off their next annual payment to the final year of their loan. So far, 230 producers are taking advantage of this option.
USDA is also working to rebuild local economies by making housing and business assistance programs available to help finance repair and replacement of homes and businesses in rural communities. To help feed families in need during the recovery efforts, USDA is also providing nearly $149 million in Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to more than 1.1 million individuals in 466,080 households in 11 States.
USDA has also made available about $27 million in financial and technical assistance to help 25 states restore damaged and flooded land by assisting with debris removal and other repairs. To ensure assistance quickly got to those in need, USDA provided funds immediately to states to enable the states to respond quickly to any urgent needs.
USDA reminds producers affected by extreme weather that resources are available to cover losses, including losses to livestock, crops, orchard trees, and private forests. Types of USDA assistance to farmers and ranchers may include the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), federal crop insurance, and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
USDA continues working with state and local officials, as well as our federal partners, to make sure people have the necessary resources to recover from these challenges.
To find the USDA Service Center nearest you, please visit http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=us&agency=fsa.
To learn more about USDA's disaster assistance, please visit http://www.usda.gov/disaster.