Disaster and Drought Assistance | USDA
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Drought and Drought Assistance

This page provides resources and information related to the current drought crisis from across the Government. Throughout much of the country, communities are struggling with one of the worst droughts to strike the U.S. in decades. The lack of rain and high temperatures have done considerable damage to crops -- particularly those in the Midwest. USDA and other federal agencies are taking steps to help farmers, ranchers, and small businesses wrestling with this crisis.

Drought Code Sprint

Through the Drought Code Sprint we're making the call to developers across the country to use publicly available government information to help farmers, ranchers, and others to gain quick and reliable "one-click" access to information on drought conditions and Federal drought relief.

Submit your app by October 24, 5pm ET and we'll highlight some of the submissions on our Drought web pages.

2012 Drought Disaster Updates

Disaster Fast Track Map Updated 10/10/12
Drought Disaster Designations Map (PDF, 822KB)
Text-only (accessible) version
Map shows designations due to drought across the country under USDA's amended rule. Any county declared a primary (red) or contiguous (orange) disaster county makes producers in that county eligible for certain emergency aid.

List of Designated Drought Disaster Counties (PDF, 2.77MB)

U.S. Drought Monitor
Current drought conditions in the U.S.

Help for You

Producers and Farmers

Additional Emergency Funding to Assist Livestock and Crop Producers: To assist producers facing extreme drought conditions, 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.

Emergency Disaster Designation and Declaration Process Overview

Contact your local Farm Services Agency for more information

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) - Emergency Haying and Grazing

For 2012, a county is authorized for emergency haying and grazing outside the Primary Nesting Season if the county is designated as level "D0-Abnormally Dry", as of July 19, 2012 or later, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The U.S. Drought Monitor and other information on drought conditions are available online at www.drought.gov.

Under this special determination, emergency haying is authorized to August 31, 2012. Emergency grazing is authorized until November 30, 2012.

Learn more about FSA Disaster Program (PDF) triggers, key requirements, payments and funding levels for each disaster programs.

Range Management Assistance

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can assist grazing permit holders by making adjustments in the use period, allow temporary water hauling, allow permittees to move livestock to allotments that are not being used, or to refund grazing fees. Drought-affected grazing permit holders should contact their local BLM field office for assistance.

Non-Farm Businesses and Non-Profits

Drought recovery loans are available through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Eligible businesses include:

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.

  • Small, non-farm businesses
  • Small, agricultural cooperatives
  • Small businesses engaged in aquaculture
  • Most private, non-profit organizations of any size

Eligible businesses can apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. These are working capital loans and can be used to cover operating expenses - like utilities, rent, and monthly overhead that would have been paid if the disaster had not occurred. The interest rate is 4 percent for businesses, 3 percent for nonprofits, with terms up to 30 years.

See detailed eligibility requirements.

You may also apply online.

General Consumers

Drought Common Operating Picture for Navigation

United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues to monitor the drought and impacts to navigation on the Nation's waterways. Through close coordination with the US Coast Guard, Industry, state, and local officials actions such as dredging, adjusting flow release from established reservoirs, dispatching survey vessels to mark channels, and placing restrictions on the draft and number of barges in tow the water ways remain navigable. USACE actions are taken within existing authorities and approved operating plans. The USACE Drought Common Operating Picture is for informational use only. Monitor your local district information for additional information.

State, Local and Tribal Governments

Hydrologic Monitoring (streamgaging, water-quality sampling, or groundwater monitoring)
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) works closely with state and local partner agencies to identify and address drought-related water-information needs. The USGS hydrologic monitoring networks in the drought-affected states include approximately 2,400 streamgages, 800 water-temperature, 400 conductivity, and 200 dissolved-oxygen monitoring stations and 800 real-time ground-water wells. The data provided by these monitoring devices are used by communities and state resource managers to plan water withdrawals and diversions, assess needs for water-use restrictions, and anticipate or respond to drought-related environmental stresses events such as fishkills, saltwater intrusions or water-quality degradation due to high water temperatures, low dissolved oxygen (DO), or algae blooms.

Representatives of interested agencies should contact the director of the USGS water science center office in their state.

Additional Resources

News and Information
Browse the latest drought related news, radio and video features and other content.

Read the latest blog posts on drought, including weekly Agriculture Weather and Drought Updates.

USDA Drought Assistance and Programs
Explore the USDA's range of drought programs and assistance, as well as key reports, data and other information.