White House Domestic Policy Council Deputy Director Mark Zuckerman brought up several points during the meeting of the White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, at the Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Friday, July 27, 2012 to update members and stakeholders on the Administration response to the drought and explore ways to assist American farmers and ranchers suffering in its affects. Following President Obamaâs instructions of using existing programs to support struggling farmers and ranchers the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has implemented several processes to assist American farmers and ranchers. USDA has streamlined drought disaster declarations directly from Drought Monitor data, allowed nearly 30 million acres under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to be used for emergency haying or grazing, lowered payment reduction for CRP lands that qualify for emergency haying and grazing in 2012, from 25% to 10%, allowed producers to modify current Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contracts to allow for grazing, livestock watering and other conservation activities to address drought conditions, and has authorized haying and grazing of Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) easement area in drought-affected areas where haying and grazing is consistent with conservation of wildlife habitat and wetlands, and reduced the interest rate for Farm Service Agency (FSA) Emergency loans from 3.75% to 2.25%. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.
May 18, 2014
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