Over 100 attendees joined Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs at the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration and Colorado Agricultural Commissioner John Salazar at the second of four regional workshops to outline resources available to assist with drought recovery efforts. The Colorado regional workshop was held at the state fairgrounds in Pueblo earlier this week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with tribes, local, state and federal partners to hold the workshops. Federal partners include the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
With over two-thirds of the country in drought, recovery efforts are underway and a new framework for delivery is being developed. Collaboration, coordination and communication were the prevalent themes at the Colorado workshop. These efforts will be needed at all levels of government and our ability to work together is crucial.
Participants agreed we have reached a time to adapt, adopt, and accept change. They said we must be more flexible in our idea building and be willing to try new things. The outcome of the meeting was that participants shared their vast experiences and identified some tools available. These tools will be compiled in a tool chest of sorts and a strategic plan will be issued once all four meetings have been completed.
At the direction of President Obama, USDA is helping coordinate an Administration-wide response to the drought that has included: giving the National Credit Union Administration’s increased capacity for lending to customers, including farmers; the U.S. Department of Transportation allowing emergency waivers for federal truck weight regulations and hours of service requirements to reach drought-stricken communities; increased outreach and emergency lending by the Small Business Administration; and more. With its decades of experience helping regions stricken by natural disasters, EDA stands ready to support this multiagency effort to partner with the farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and rural areas that have been impacted by the drought to help set them on the path to economic recovery.
A third regional workshop was held yesterday in Arkansas and a fourth one is being planned for November in Ohio.
You can view a White House fact sheet outlining efforts by non-USDA Federal agencies here.)
For more information about available USDA drought assistance click here.