WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today discussed how the USDA is preparing to assist regions affected by flooding. USDA is prepared to provide personnel and resources to help save lives and support recovery operations in areas devastated by flooding.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who will be impacted by flooding in the Nation's heartland," said Vilsack. "We are working tirelessly to identify and send all of the resources we can offer to those who are in need and will expedite delivery of these services however we can."

The USDA is mobilizing the following resources:

  • Food Assistance - USDA'S Food and Nutrition Service assists disaster survivors by providing food and infant formula to shelters and mass feeding sites and issuing Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (formerly food stamps). USDA is assessing food commodity inventories and will be ready to provide them to shelters if requested.
  • Food Safety - USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service continues to provide information about how to keep food safe during power outages. A series of public service messages have been issued throughout the affected region and will continue through various available communications tools. Consumers can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 24 hours a day at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854); for the hearing-impaired (TTY) 1-800-256-7072.
  • Housing Assistance: USDA's Rural Development is ready to help individuals needing payment assistance on their existing USDA Rural Development Single and Multi-family housing loans who are affected by the Red River flooding. They are encouraged to contact the Centralized Servicing Center at (800) 414-1226.

  • Community Assistance: USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is immediately making available $500,000 for exigency needs through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program. The purpose of the EWP Program is to provide emergency assistance to protect life and property through recovery measures such as debris removal from streams and stream bank stabilization.
  • Farmer and Rancher Assistance: USDA's Farm Service Agency is anticipating an increase in prevented planting claims due to ground moisture. USDA has several disaster programs for qualified farm operators, including low-interest emergency loans, the Emergency Conservation Program and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. The North Dakota and Minnesota State and County Emergency Boards, chaired by the USDA Farm Service Agency, are on stand-by to assist with the response and quickly assess agricultural needs.
  • Rescue Assistance - USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is monitoring pet evacuation and sheltering needs as well as assisting with Zoo inspections.

  • The USDA Risk Management Agency is prepared to authorize emergency loss procedures that streamline, on a crop specific basis, certain loss determinations and payments.