U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced efforts Monday to help farmers and ranchers affected by the widespread drought in the United States.
Vilsack said in a release some flexibility would be incorporated in the department's major conservation programs as well as plans to encourage crop insurance companies to provide a grace period on unpaid insurance premiums because some farming families are expected to struggle to make ends meet at the close of the crop year.
"Beginning today, USDA will open opportunities for haying and grazing on lands enrolled in conservation programs while providing additional financial and technical assistance to help landowners through this drought," Vilsack said. "And we will deliver greater peace of mind to farmers dealing with this worsening drought by encouraging crop insurance companies to work with farmers through this challenging period."
The assistance Vilsack announced uses the secretary's existing authority to help create and encourage flexibility within the Conservation Reserve Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Wetlands Reserve Program and the Federal Crop Insurance Program.
So far this year, the Agriculture Department designated 1,297 counties in 29 states as disaster areas, making qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans.
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