Tonight, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join RURAL TV and RFD-TV live at the Iowa State Fair to discuss the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s continuing efforts to assist farmers and ranchers impacted by drought.

As part of continuing steps by the Obama Administration to assist livestock producers in response to the historic drought, USDA will utilize nearly $16 million in financial and technical assistance to immediately help crop and livestock producers in 19 states cope with the adverse impacts of the historic drought. In addition, USDA will initiate a transfer of $14 million in unobligated program funds into the Emergency Conservation Program. These funds can be used to assist in moving water to livestock in need, providing emergency forage for livestock, and rehabilitating lands severely impacted by the drought. Together these efforts should provide nearly $30 million to producers struggling with drought conditions.

Most recently, Secretary Vilsack signed disaster designations for an additional 44 counties in 12 states including Iowa as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat.

Before the broadcast, Secretary Vilsack, a former  Iowa governor, will tour the fair. The Iowa State Fair is known for many iconic items:  a cow sculpted out of butter, corn dogs wrapped in bacon and deep fried, and the biggest boar, to name just a few.

This year, it also features a life-sized image Abe Lincoln welcoming visitors to the USDA booth in the massive Agriculture Building.  The booth, which is an annual partnership of USDA agencies in the state, has taken on a special look this year.

When President Abraham Lincoln established the USDA on May 15, 1862 he recognized the potential of America’s farmers and ranchers to provide a safe, ample food supply for our nation and the world.

“With around 1 million attendees each year, there is no better place in Iowa to continue USDA’s year-long 150th anniversary celebration than at the Iowa State Fair,” said Darin Leach, USDA Rural Development Public Information Coordinator.  “The People’s Department has touched Iowa in many years during the past 150 years. But at the same time, Iowa has greatly influenced USDA.”

The booth includes a 32-foot timeline marking key moments in USDA’s history.  It also features profiles of the five Secretaries of Agriculture with direct Iowa ties, including current secretary and former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack.

During the second day of the fair (August 10th), families with children could be found spinning a giant wheel and answering questions about USDA.  National Animal Disease Center employee Jennifer Wilson-Welder and Natural Resource Conservation Service employee Luke Zaiger worked the wheel and conducted the quiz.

The USDA Iowa team has done a fabulous job of collaborating on a one-of-a-kind state fair booth. Our Sesquicentennial only comes once and the Iowa State Fair is a perfect place to celebrate the past and share our accomplishments.

The event begins at 7 p.m. Central time.

Secretary Vilsack will be taking questions from Twitter on USDA drought assistance efforts. Questions may be submitted in advance by using the hashtags #askUSDA and #Iowastatefair.

Note: This event will be streamed live on and  The show will be broadcasted nationwide by RFD-TV and RURAL TV. Click here to find your local channel listings for RFD-TV, RFD HD and RURAL TV.