73 PERCENT OF STATE NOW UNDER 'EXCEPTIONAL' DROUGHT
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Despite sporadic showers and occasional scattered thunderstorms, Alabama's drought has worsened to the point that almost three-fourths of the state is now designated as being under "exceptional" drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The designation, also known as D4, means the state is experiencing the worst possible drought level, a fact that hasn't been lost on Alabama's Department of Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks.
"We have been overly optimistic because of the sporadic rain we have had across the state in the last few weeks," said Sparks. "But the truth is, a little rain is not going to help right now. Even with the showers we have had, we now have more than 85 percent of the state in extreme or worse conditions."
The current U.S. Drought Monitor reports shows 73.1 percent of the state is experiencing an "exceptional" level of drought, and an additional 12.4 percent is at D3, or "extreme." Earlier this month, Alabama's drought conditions appeared to be improving with only 51.8 percent of the state included in the D4 level.
Last week the federal government pledged $1.04 million dollars in Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funding for drought in Alabama. The ECP program gives producers additional resources to provide water for livestock in drought situations, as well as to repair conservation structures. The program is administered by the Farm Service Agency. Eligible producers will receive cost-share assistance for the cost of the approved practices.
"Not only have our farmers been suffering through the highest level of drought in the entire United States, but now we are experiencing record-breaking temperatures that may cause even more losses," added Sparks. "I am glad they are sending money to Alabama, and I hope this is just the beginning of the relief efforts for our farmers."