Drought news: The Obama administration expands drought response across stricken areas #CODrought


Here’s an excerpt from the release from the President’s office:

As communities across the country struggle with the impacts of one of the worst droughts in decades, President Obama is committed to ensuring that his Administration is doing everything it can help the farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and communities being impacted.

To respond to immediate needs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other federal agencies are using their existing authorities wherever possible to address the hardships arising from the lack of water, feed, and forage. Within the last month, USDA has opened the Conservation Reserve Program to emergency haying and grazing, has lowered the borrower interest rate for emergency loans, and has called on crop insurance companies to provide more flexibility to farmers. The Department of the Interior has provided additional grazing flexibility on federal lands and the Small Business Administration is working to help with access to investment capital and credit in affected communities.

On Tuesday, August 7, 2012, President Obama convened his White House Rural Council for one of a continuing series of policy meetings to review Executive Branch response actions and to develop additional policy initiatives to assist drought-stricken Americans. Following the meeting, the White House announced several new measures the Administration is implementing to help those impacted by the drought, including providing additional assistance for livestock and crop producers, increasing the capacity for lending to small businesses, and waiving certain requirements on trucks helping to provide relief. President Obama also stressed the need for the entire Administration to continue to look at further steps it can take to ease the pain of this historic drought.

As the drought continues, the Administration will actively implement its longer-term strategy for assessing and managing the effects of the crisis. In addition to impacts on farming and ranching operations, a long-term, widespread drought will also have implications for wildfires, water availability, navigation, and power generation across much of the country and across other sectors. As we move forward, the Administration will work closely with state and local governments, farming and ranching communities and others to ensure an effective and efficient response and recovery.

Finally, while the Administration is exploring every possible avenue to provide relief from the impacts of the drought, Congress still needs to act to ensure that the needed disaster assistance is available to these communities. The best way to do that is by passing a comprehensive, multi-year farm bill that not only provides much-needed disaster assistance but gives farmers and ranchers the certainty they deserve while enacting critical reforms.

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

The relief includes availability of about $16 million for financial and technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to immediately help crop and livestock producers, as well as making 1,000 credit unions eligible for a low-income designation, which permits unlimited lending to small-business owners including farmers.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture transfer of $14 million in unobligated program funds into the Emergency Conservation Program will assist in moving water to livestock in need, providing emergency forage for livestock, and rehabilitating lands severely impacted by the drought.

The USDA will also allow farmers to apply this year’s crop indemnity payments toward their crop insurance premiums for the following crop year and have worked with the 16 major providers of crop insurance to drop interest charges on unpaid premiums through November.

Lowering interest rate on emergency loans will help producers recover from production and physical losses associated with natural disasters.

U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) thanked President Obama for developing and implement the measures.

“These policies will bring some relief to Coloradans coping with our nation’s ongoing severe drought. I am glad to see President Obama leverage the full might of the federal government to help Colorado’s farmers and ranchers weather this exceptionally severe drought,” Udall said.

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