Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Secretary’s Column: The Means to Help Producers Impacted by Drought

This week, we continued to see historic levels of drought grip much of our nation, impacting thousands of farm families. Although the hard work and innovation of our producers has fueled a strong farm economy in recent years, President Obama and I understand the major challenges this drought poses for American agriculture.

As of July 20, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 1,055 counties across the country as disaster areas due to drought. Significant portions of many crops are impacted – for example, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor report, 88 percent of our nation’s corn and 87 percent of our soybeans are in drought-stricken areas. Rising grain prices are threatening livestock and dairy operators with high input costs. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 7/20/12

Approximately 88% of the corn grown in the U.S. is within an area experiencing drought, based on historical NASS crop production data.

Approximately 88% of the corn grown in the U.S. is within an area experiencing drought, based on historical NASS crop production data. (Click to enlarge map)

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

The drought of 2012 has rapidly expanded and intensified, covering 64% of the contiguous United States – according to the U.S. Drought Monitor – by July 17.  Three months ago, that figure stood at 37%, and at the beginning of the year, only 28% of the lower 48 states had drought coverage. Read more »

USDA Official Stands with Indiana Producers During Worsening Drought

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service (FFAS) Michael Scuse (right) tour drought stricken corn fields with Doug Goyings, on the Goyings Farm in Paulding County, Ohio on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. More information at www.usda.gov/drought - USDA photo by Christina Reed.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service (FFAS) Michael Scuse (right) tour drought stricken corn fields with Doug Goyings, on the Goyings Farm in Paulding County, Ohio on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. More information at www.usda.gov/drought - USDA photo by Christina Reed.

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

This week, as drought conditions continued to expand across two-thirds of the lower 48 states, USDA officials began fanning out to rural communities across the country to show support to farmers and ranchers affected by the drought. As part of the effort, USDA Under Secretary for Foreign and Farm Agricultural Services Michael Scuse visited Indiana, a state now experiencing increasing levels of drought, as most of the state has been designated a natural disaster area by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Announces Proposed Rule to Help Utilities Assist Home and Business Owners’ Energy Conservation Efforts

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with constituents after his Investments in Rural Pennsylvania speech about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Proposed Energy Efficiency Rule at the Alleghany Electric Cooperative, Inc. Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association in Harrisburg, PA on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with constituents after his Investments in Rural Pennsylvania speech about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Proposed Energy Efficiency Rule at the Alleghany Electric Cooperative, Inc. Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association in Harrisburg, PA on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

As Harrisburg, Penn., temperatures reached 93 degrees on Tuesday and continued to climb throughout the afternoon, it seemed an appropriate time for Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce a new proposed Federal Rule that could help rural homeowners and entrepreneurs save on their utility bills and create jobs in rural areas. The new energy efficiency effort will make federal loans available for rural electric cooperatives to re-lend to electric cooperative customers throughout America who want to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient. The partnership demonstrates a new “pathway to prosperity” according to Secretary Vilsack, and is “a reminder of President Obama’s commitment to stronger rural communities, a stronger rural economy, and strengthening rural values.” Read more »