The U.S. Agriculture Secretary says he’s confident the drought-aid package he unveiled this week will help farmers who’ve suffered drought-related set-backs stay afloat financially.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns made an appearance at the Farm Progress Show in Amana on Wednesday. “Here’s what I said early in the summer, late spring and it bears repeating,” Johanns told reporters midday Wednesday. “We’re going to do everything we can at the USDA to help farmers and ranchers get through this drought.”
According to Johanns, western states seem hardest hit by the drought, although portions of western Iowa have been included in drought maps. Johanns saw the drought’s impact firsthand during a recent visit to South Dakota. “I walked with a family into a pasture area that literally had not greened-up this year. That’s how dry it’s been there,” Johanns said in Amana. “They’ve had a small amount of rain in the last few days, but really not enough to make much of a difference.”
The USDA will give $50 million in grant money to states, including Iowa, for distribution to livestock producers. Johanns said the money could be used in a variety of ways. “It could be to move water. It could be to buy hay. It could be to relocate cattle to greener pastures, if you will,” Johanns said. “It’s a program that is very flexible.”
There’s another $30 million available to help farmers rehabilitate drought-damaged crop land and pastures. Additional assistance is available for cotton, sorghum and peanut growers in the south.
Also yesterday (Wednesday), the USDA handed out about $17.5 million worth of grants for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Fifty of the grants went to projects in Iowa.