On August 8, President Obama convened the White House Rural Council to review the Administration’s response to the historic drought. In conjunction with this meeting, the White House has released a fact sheet providing an overview of all federal agency actions taken thus far:
There were several new actions included in yesterday’s announcement:
1. Additional emergency funding to assist livestock and crop producers – USDA will allocate $30 million in financial aid and disaster assistance in 19 states. Funds can be used to assist in moving water to livestock in need, providing emergency forage for livestock and rehabilitating lands severely impacted by the drought.
2. Allowing an additional 1,000 credit unions to increase their lending to small businesses – The National Credit Union Administration will announce that more than 1,000 credit unions are eligible for low-income designation, which permits unlimited lending to farmers and other small business owners – half of which are located in severely drought stricken states.
3. Community outreach events – USDA and other agencies will host targeted events in communities severely impacted by the drought to provide detailed information on what federal resources are available to assist farmers. This will also include outreach at state and county fairs, as well as webinars and other online communications.
4. Department of Transportation’s existing emergency exemptions for federal operating requirements – DOT is prepared to use its authority to waive regulatory provisions and Hours of Service requirements for commercial drivers who are assisting with drought relief.
Previous steps that have already been taken by federal agencies include:
1. Use of indemnity payments for crop insurance premiums (USDA)
2. Disaster designation regulation (USDA)
3. Reduction of USDA’s Emergency Loan Rate (USDA)
4. Conservation Reserve Program haying and grazing (USDA)
5. Grazing on federal lands (DOI)
6. Small Business Administration drought disaster declarations (SBA)
7. Preserving navigation (USACE)
8. Coordination with State Departments of Transportation (DOT)
Click here to watch the President Obama’s remarks during yesterday’s Council meeting, which included the following statement regarding the Farm Bill:
“Congress needs to pass a Farm Bill that will not only provide important disaster relief tools but also make necessary reforms and give farmers the certainty that they deserve. That’s the single best way that we can help rural communities in the short term but also in the long term. And we’ve already seen some good bipartisan work done in the Senate. Now is the time for us to come together and go ahead and get this done, and my hope is that Congress, many of whom will be traveling back to their districts in some cases in rural communities and see what’s taking place there, will feel a greater sense of urgency and will be prepared to get this done immediately upon their return.”
As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact NCGA staff.
White House Drought Fact Sheet – http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/08/07/fact-sheet-president-obama-leading-administration-wide-drought-response
President Obama’s remarks during White House Rural Council meeting – http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2012/08/07/president-obama-discusses-drought-response-effort
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