More than half of the United States hosts areas considered natural disaster sites by the US Department of Agriculture following a ravaging dry spell that has left more than 1,000 counties in 26 different states destroyed.
The USDA says droughts and fires are to blame for their recent labeling of much of the US as being in a state of natural disaster. Among those effected by damage, reports Bloomberg News, are around one-third of the country’s farmers, which contributes in making this declaration the largest ever of its kind by the Department of Agriculture.
“Agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tells the country this week in an official statement. “We need to be cognizant of the fact that drought and weather conditions have severely impacted farmers around the country.”
States that contain the 1,016 counties considered natural disaster sites include California, Texas, Illinois, Florida and Hawaii, to name a few. More than half of the Midwest region — the heartland of America’s agriculture community — is currently experiencing moderate to extreme droughts.
“When you are one of the biggest agricultural-producing states in the nation, a monumental drought causes enormous losses,” Bryan Black, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Agriculture, tells Bloomberg. “The disaster-relief assistance from USDA will help Texas farmers and ranchers recover from devastating losses.”
Others aren’t so optimistic with so much damage already done, though. “Farmers and ranchers are at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says in a statement. Brownback’s state produced 8.2 billion in crops in 2010, but with harsh weather ravaging yields this year, Kansas expects a massive drop.
Corn, the top cash crop in the United States, has been largely affected by the harsh weather as of late. Around 40 percent of America’s corn supply is only in good or excellent condition as of this past weekend, down from 48 percent only days earlier. The soybean, America’s other top agriculture crop, is also being largely destroyed.
The USDA will formally declare the 1,000-plus counties natural disaster sites in a statement on Friday.