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FSA Administrator Tours Worst Drought in Texas History
USAgNet - 08/11/2011

Farm Service Agency Administrator Bruce Nelson traveled to Texas on Wednesday to tour areas of the southern parts of the state devastated by drought and wildfires. Nelson said that USDA would continue to work to deliver assistance to those impacted by drought and encouraged producers to contact their local county or state USDA Service Center or Farm Service Agency office. Nelson also highlighted an announcement made earlier this week that will offer additional flexibility in the Conservation Reserve Program to assist producers struggling from drought.

"Our top priority is to make sure that all farmers and ranchers know that we are here for them and that FSA provides programs to help them through one of the worst disasters in this state's history," said Nelson.

Nelson was escorted by Texas State Executive Director and acting Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs Juan Garcia.

In June, the drought, which has plagued the state since January, caused Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to name 213 counties in Texas as primary natural disaster areas. In an effort to further help producers, Vilsack relaxed rules governing the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) earlier this week by extending the emergency grazing period to Oct. 31, 2011, without an additional payment reduction.

Generally, land enrolled in CRP cannot be used for grazing unless special circumstances warrant the land to be opened for that purpose. Texas, along with Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma has been approved for emergency grazing.

So far this year, producers nationwide have received $693 million in indemnity payments to help recover from disasters, including more than $520 million to those affected by drought. Additional assistance for livestock producers affected by the drought comes from the Livestock Forage Program which has already provided over $50 million in Texas. This timely assistance helps ranchers purchase feed for their livestock when they need it most.

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