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USDA Officials Tour Michigan And Other Drought/Severe Weather-Affected States; USDA Secretarial Disaster Designation Rule Amended

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Liza C. Moore
Foster Swift Agricultural Law Update
July 2012

On July 15, 2012, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse began a tour of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana—states affected by spring severe frosts and freezes and now increasing drought. Additional USDA subcabinet members will travel to Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas in the coming weeks. According to the USDA’s press release, the purpose of the visits is to "show support to farmers and ranchers affected by a string of extreme weather in 2012." "USDA officials will also provide guidance on the department’s existing disaster resources and remind producers to keep thorough records of losses. . . ."

On July 11, 2012, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced "a package of program improvements that will deliver faster and more flexible assistance to farmers and ranchers devastated by natural disasters." The final rule for Secretarial disaster assistance will be amended to "nearly automatically" qualify a disaster county once it is categorized by the U.S. Drought Monitor as a severe drought for eight consecutive weeks during the growing season and streamline the Secretarial designation process.