U.S. Ag Secretary Mike Johanns says his agency is reviewing drought conditions in nearly two dozen Iowa counties. Farm Service Agency offices are convening local emergency boards to make disaster assessments in 20 counties in southeast and east central Iowa. “Once they determined the level of crop damage, they’ll make a recommendation to me and I just want to assure everyone that I will act on that recommendation immediately,” Johanns says. Johanns says farmers in eight Iowa counties that are adjacent to Illinois where he’s already issued a disaster declaration are eligible for emergency federal loans. Johanns says he’s seen a report indicating Iowa’s topsoil — on a statewide basis — was 45 percent short of adequate moisture levels in late July. “I know that southeast Iowa drought intensity has been rated from abnormally dry to extremely dry,” Johanns says.The ag secretary says most of Iowa has received what he calls “beneficial rain” but some areas are so dry rain at this point in the growing season won’t help the crops much. Johanns was at the Iowa State Fair yesterday, holding a three-hour public forum on federal farm policy.
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