Because of damage caused by the excessive heat and lack of rain, the U.S. Agriculture Department added 218 counties in 12 states to its list of designated disaster zones.
Now included on that list Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.
One bright spot for livestock producers, the USDA announced it'll allow emergency haying and grazing on an additional 3.8 million acres of wetlands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.
The move frees up an additional 445,000 acres of CRP land in South Dakota alone.
U.S. Senator John Thune said the move shows just how desperate the drought situation is.
"It is the better quality hay which is important. But the fact that it is being opened now, where typically it's not, is I think a recognition by the Department of Ag of just how severe conditions have gotten," said Sen. John Thune, (R) South Dakota.
Thune said conservation groups like the National Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and Pheasants Forever are also on board with the move because they realize these are extreme circumstances.
Congress is also trying to hammer out an emergency drought bill that would provide additional help for farmers and ranchers.
"If they can move a drought bill through the U.S. House today or tomorrow get it to the senate and we could pick it up and pass it. We could address at least the near term issue. And then try to get the farm bill moving in the not too distant future, said Sen. John Thune.
The farm bill expires September 30th.
If nothing is in place by then, Thune said congress could vote to extend existing legislation.
But he'd prefer the new, five year plan, already passed by the Senate be put in place.
Cindy Berner-Schlichte is spearheading an effort to collect goods to bring to those in need, people who lost everything in the path of destruction. She's filling horse trailers with diapers, water,More >>
Cindy Berner-Schlichte is spearheading an effort to collect goods to bring to those in need, people who lost everything in the path of destruction. She's filling horse trailers with diapers, water, snacks, and tools that can be used to cleanup debris.More >>
Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Kathy Clayton at (712) 239-4100 x209. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.