WASHINGTON – US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Aug. 8 that the USDA will spend nearly $16 million in financial and technical assistance toward assistance for crop and livestock producers in 19 drought-stricken states.

Vilsack said USDA will initiate a transfer of $14 million in unobligated program funds into the Emergency Conservation Program. The money can be used to help bring to livestock in need, providing emergency forage for livestock, and rehabilitating lands scorched by the drought. The initiatives will provide roughly $30 million to producers struggling with drought conditions, according to the agency.

In the meantime, 44 additional counties in 12 states were designated as primary natural disaster areas due to drought, according to USDA. Designated counties are in Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota.