Nearly 100 agricultural producers, rural stakeholders, and federal and state officials gathered earlier this week 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.
"The impact of drought can be felt in rural communities throughout the country and the Obama Administration is committed to doing everything it can to help farmers, ranchers, businesses, and local and county governments meet drought-related challenges," said Colleen Callahan, the USDA's disaster recovery coordinator for drought. "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."
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. Tuesday's 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. There are more than 76,000 identified farms in Ohio alone. Agriculture is the biggest business in the state.
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.
The Obama Administration, with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's leadership, has worked tirelessly to strengthen rural America, maintain a strong farm safety net, and create opportunities for America's farmers and ranchers. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its most productive periods in American history thanks to the productivity, resiliency, and resourcefulness of our producers. A strong farm safety net is important to sustain the success of American agriculture.