Earlier this week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was adding more than $300 million to federal emergency funds. The money goes to supporting USDA programs aimed at helping farmers recover from natural disasters and extreme weather.
The $300 million increase is significantly more than last year’s emergency spending of about $136 million. The reason for the increase, USDA officials say, is the rise in extreme weather and natural disasters seen over the last year.
The largest portion of the money, about $110 million, is headed towards Utah and Missouri both of which experienced heavy flooding over the past year. Last spring, for example, flooding along the Mississippi forced the Army Corps of Engineers to destroy levees in southern Missouri in order to prevent flooding in major metropolitan areas in Illinois. About $50 million is going to Missouri farmers to help them recover from the damage.
Smaller amounts of money are heading across the country. In New York, for example, the USDA is releasing about $40 million to help the state repair damage to watersheds and reverse erosion that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Alabama is set to receive about $6 million to help recover from last summer’s tornadoes.
Reflecting on the wide scale nature of requests for emergency funding, Secretary Vilsack stated, “There have been years that have had more intensive damage in a particular geographic area, but what’s unique about last year is that virtually every part of the country was affected.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer