July 30, 2014

Drought prompts feds to cut red tape

The USDA is working to cut through red tape to help drought-stricken farmers in Wisconsin and elsewhere.  Rebecca Blue, deputy undersecretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs, says Secretary Tom Vilsack is committed to making it a “more streamline” process for farmers to get assistance.

In July, the USDA made changes to the secretarial designation process. The federal agency says will result in a 40 percent reduction in processing time for most counties affected by disasters, and reduces the interest rate for emergency loans from the current rate from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent.

Blue says a recent change to the Conservation Reserve Program will open up, for livestock producers, some land that had been set aside for conservation. The USDA says there will still be strict compliance rules for hazing and grazing on these protected areas some of which have wetland characteristics.

Blue made several stops Wednesday in Southern Wisconsin, a region heavily affected by the drought.