Pine Bluff, AR, Oct 19, 2012 -- Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs at the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, joined Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture, V.O. “Butch” Calhoun, along with USDA and other federal, state and local officials Wednesday for a regional workshop to outline resources available to assist with drought recovery efforts. The workshop was held at the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff campus.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with local, state and federal partners to hold the workshops, working closely with tribes, the Arkansas Agriculture Department, the Delta Regional Authority, U.S. Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to facilitate them.
Over 150 participants, including stakeholders, discussed the drought’s effects on water quality and quantity, community and economic impacts, forestry, and agriculture and agribusiness. Currently, more than two-thirds of the country is affected by the drought. Participants in the meeting offered thoughts on developing a new framework for cooperation among local, state and federal partners when it comes to drought recovery, and shared ideas about how to establish long-term relationships at all levels in these communities. Collaboration, coordination and communication were the themes during the workshop.
The next workshop will be held in November in Ohio.
As of Oct. 2, 2012, USDA has designated all or parts of 41 states as natural disaster areas. USDA continues to encourage any farmer or rancher with questions to contact a USDA Service Center office, because even with limited legal authority, USDA has tools to help.
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.
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