USDA coordinates long-term drought response in Northwest Ohio

Nearly 100 agricultural producers, rural stakeholders, and federal and state officials gathered in late November at Northwest State Community College in rural Henry County, Ohio, to discuss the impact of this summer’s drought and sow the seeds for future collaboration.

“These meetings provide an opportunity for federal representatives to work with local and regional leaders to learn about drought-related impacts in the region and determine how to best use existing programs to help speed recovery efforts,” said Colleen Callahan, the USDA’s disaster recovery coordinator for drought.

Recognizing that recovery from the drought that affected much of the farm belt will be a lengthy process, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack scheduled several regional meetings to outline available resources to assist local, regional and state recovery efforts. USDA coordinated with federal partners, working closely with the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to facilitate these meetings. The meeting in Northwest Ohio also drew stakeholders from Michigan and Indiana. Similar meetings have taken place in Arkansas, Colorado, and Nebraska.

The Archbold meeting was coordinated by The Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Northwest State Community College, the Center for Innovative Food Technology, and Ruralogic.

The Secretary also announced the implementation of the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF). The NDRF links local, State, Tribal and Federal governments, the private sector and nongovernmental and community organizations that play vital roles in recovery. It is a scalable, adaptable coordinating structure that helps align key roles and responsibilities in response to disaster recovery.

In addition, Vilsack talked about the recent 2012 farm income forecast from USDA’s Economic Research Service.

“While down slightly from the August forecast, today’s estimates for net farm income are the second-highest since the 1970s, while total farm household income is expected to rise. At the same time, the positive trend of falling debt ratios continue,” Vilsack said. “The forecast suggests that strong farm income should remain a positive factor in carrying farmers and ranchers into the 2013 growing season.”

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