The United States declared its largest ever official disaster area today. The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared more than 1,000 counties in 26 different states disaster areas due to drought. This makes the drought the largest ever natural disaster in American history.
The declaration will give farmers and ranchers in drought areas access to federal aid, including low-interest emergency loans.
“Agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday while announcing the assistance program. “We need to be cognizant of the fact that drought and weather conditions have severely impacted farmers around the country.”
Many people are wondering how this will affect the economy with crops pushed out with a lower yield.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 56 percent of the country is current in a drought condition. The largest ever recording since the monitor went into effect 12 years ago.
With high temperatures across the nation, the lack of water is magnified. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that the period from January 2012 to June 2012 was “the warmest first half of any year on record for the contiguous United States.”
In fact, nearly 170 high-temperature records were broken or tied during the month of June in the U.S. Many temperatures reaching to 120 degrees.
Secretary Vilsack urged Congress to vote on a bill that would reauthorize the agricultural programs to allow the government to help farmers and ranchers in need.
“We need intervention from a higher authority — rain,” Representative Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican committee member from Nebraska, said in an interview with Bloomberg.
So, while it might not feel like an emergency, please remember to conserve water and be prepared with water storage.