Scarce rainfall and unrelenting heat this summer in Tama County and throughout the midwest has resulted in grave concern for crop and livestock farmers. Recognizing the drought effects, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack declared much of eastern Iowa, including Tama County, and parts of 12 midwestern states as primary natural disaster areas.
Tama County Supervisors on July 20 had joined Iowa state leaders in calling for the designation.
Area farmers may be eligible for some assistance if they have experienced problems providing water for livestock, Ryan Currens, Tama County Emergency Management coordinator said Friday. He said there have been reports received of some farm ponds and creeks which are depended upon for livestock watering which have dried up.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has announced a 60-day suspension of law to allow for overweight loads of hay, straw and stover up to 90,000 pounds gross weight without a permit. The action is due to drought conditions affecting livestock feed.
The temporary suspension applies to non-interstate highways.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced that farmers that have Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) or Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) lands available for harvesting, can now be included in the Iowa hay and straw directory.
The change is in response to the USDA announcement that both of these programs can now be used for haying and grazing in response to the drought conditions.
"The drought has severely impacted the amount of forage available, so it is good news that USDA has made CRP and WRP lands available for emergency haying and grazing. We hope the directory helps connect farmers that have CRP or WRP lands with those that have livestock and need the feed," Northey said. "It is important that any farmer interested in the emergency haying program should contact their local FSA or NRCS office before proceeding."
The authorization for haying and grazing of CRP and WRP became effective today, August 2nd and haying activities must be completed by August 31, 2012
"The ongoing drought continues to inflict hardship on farmers in Iowa and across the Midwest," said Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. "With today's announcement, farmers in eligible counties may apply and qualify for low-interest loans and other disaster assistance through the USDA Farm Service Agency, and farmers in all Iowa counties will be allowed expanded haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program acres.
"I welcome today's actions and thank Secretary Vilsack for responding to our severe drought problems in Iowa."
Governor Branstad joined in thanking Harkin, "In response to my letter, the Lt. Governor and I would like to thank Secretary Vilsack for the USDA's recent drought declaration of several Iowa counties. This drought has had a significant impact on Iowa agriculture and the farmers who work hard every day to feed a growing world population. This disaster designation will provide affected Iowans with additional resources during these difficult times."
Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds also commented, "One thing that I know for certain is that Iowa farmers have the tenacity, resilience, resolve and fortitude to withstand these challenging times. The Governor and I stand with all Iowans as we work together to respond swiftly to these drought conditions."