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Secretary’s Column: Supporting Families Facing Adversity: USDA Achieves Results for Producers after Week One of Disaster Assistance Sign up

Last week, farmers and ranchers began signing up for disaster assistance programs that were restored by the 2014 Farm Bill. While it took a year to implement disaster relief programs after the last Farm Bill was passed in 2008, disaster programs were up and running in just 60 days this time around, thanks to hardworking Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees in more than 2,000 offices across the country. These disaster programs will not replace all of the losses farmers and ranchers faced, but it will provide some relief and help ensure that extreme weather won’t cause families to lose the farm.

After just one week, I am pleased to say that we’ve received more than 10,000 applications for these programs. Approximately 95 percent of the applications were for the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), which provides payments to eligible producers for grazing losses. The high number of applicants is no surprise considering the widespread, ongoing drought that has plagued livestock producers in the West Coast and Midwestern portions of the United States for nearly three consecutive years. Read more »

Joint Statement from Secretaries Vilsack, Jewell, and Pritzker on the Drought Declaration in California

Governor Brown’s declaration today underscores the gravity of the historic drought conditions facing California – conditions that are likely to have significant impacts on the state’s communities, economy and environment in the coming months.

We are keenly aware of the need to act quickly and collectively to address the complex challenges the drought poses, and we are directing our respective agencies to work cooperatively to target resources to help California and other impacted states prepare for and lessen the impacts of the drought. Read more »

Agriculture Weather Update – 1/9/13

Agricultural Weather Assessment chat of United States cattle areas located in drought.

Agricultural Weather Assessment chat of United States cattle areas located in drought. Click to enlarge image.

Visit for the latest information regarding USDA’s drought assistance.

Recent rains have dented drought in the Southeast, but southwestern and central portions of the U.S. have experienced little overall change in drought coverage.  By January 1, 2013, the portion of the contiguous U.S. in drought stood at 61.09%, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, down from a September 2012 peak of 65.45%.  Despite the slight decline in overall U.S. drought coverage, the portion of the nation experiencing the worst drought category – D4, or exceptional drought – has been slowly rising.  Exceptional drought covered 6.75% of the nation on January 1, the greatest U.S. coverage since November 2011. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 10/17/12

U.S. Winter Wheat Progress, October 14, 2012

U.S. Winter Wheat Progress, October 14, 2012. (Click to enlarge image.)

Visit for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, valid October 9, nearly two-thirds (63.55%) of the contiguous U.S. remains in drought.  However, this is down nearly two percentage points from the late-September peak of 65.45%, as recent rains across the South and East have chipped away at the drought.  At the same time, drought continues to gradually intensify across the northern Plains, where rangeland and pastures remain in dismal condition and winter wheat emergence has been hampered by a lack of soil moisture. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 10/3/12

U.S. Winter Wheat Progress - Percent emerged September 30, 2012

U.S. Winter Wheat Progress - Percent emerged September 30, 2012. Click to enlarge image.

Based on data since 1995, U.S. corn and soybean harvests are proceeding at a record pace.  By September 30, 2012, more than one-half (54%) of the corn had been harvested, nearly three times the five-year average of 20%.  During the preceding 17 years, the record amount of U.S. corn harvested by the end of September had been 35% in 2000.  Similarly, 41% of the soybeans had been harvested by September 30.  Prior to this year, the record-setting soybean harvest pace by September 30 had also been 35% in 2000. Read more »

UPDATE: Drought Code Sprint Deadline Extended to October 24

After hearing from many of you, we are extending the deadline to submit your apps for the Drought Code Sprint to Wednesday, October 24 at 5 p.m. ET apps using this form.

Do you have any questions about our data or would you like to learn more about our drought assistance in general? Let us know, we’d love to help as you start coding! Read more »