ALABAMA TO RECEIVE EMERGENCY DROUGHT AID
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced Tuesday that several counties in Alabama are among 740 counties in 20 states likely to qualify for more than $1 million emergency drought aid.
The final list of eligible Alabama counties will be released later this week, but a large area of south-central and southeastern Alabama are designated as having "extreme" drought conditions -- the most severe designation -- by the National Drought Mitigation Center.
"While some parts of the country are experiencing very good crop conditions, drought is taking a toll on farming and ranching operations in other areas of the United States this year," said Johanns. "Today's actions emphasize USDA's commitment to use every resource available to help farmers and ranchers who are impacted by drought."
The drought aid is part of a $780 million emergency drought package that includes new, unused and accelerated funding. Most of the package -- $700 million -- goes to counter-cyclical payments already due cotton, grain sorghum and peanut producers. The package also includes $50 million for the Livestock Assistance Grant Program, which will be distributed by states to livestock producers in counties that were designated as "extreme" or "exceptional" by the Drought Monitor between March 7 and Aug. 31.
The Alabama Farmers Federation continues to seek congressional appropriations for farmers hit by the drought.
Steve Dunn, president of the Conecuh County Farmers Federation, told The Birmingham News on Tuesday that if his farm is eligible for one of the drought grants, he might consider using it to overseed fields with rye grass to improve grazing early next year.
"Our hay crop is mighty short too," Dunn told The News. "We've missed two cuttings already this year because of dry weather."
The money for Alabama comes after Gov. Bob Riley and Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks traveled to Washington in June to ask federal officials for drought aid.
"This much-needed money will provide them with some relief," Riley and Sparks said in a joint statement.