UNDATED (WTVB) - U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is calling 2012 a "tough year" for many farm families. A record drought impacted much of the country, including Branch County, which for several weeks this summer was listed as part of the drought monitor’s D-3 category, or extreme drought, the next to worst level, just above the exceptional grade.
Elsewhere in the country, many were impacted by a major hurricane, flooding, severe storms and more. The former Iowa governor said the USDA and Obama administration offered as much help as they could, convening the White House Rural Council to leverage all federal resources to help people overcome drought while providing unique flexibility for crop insurance and saved producers more than twenty million dollars. Vilsack said there were highlights, such as enacting new free trade agreements and agricultural exports nearly hit a record in 2012 and are on track to set a new record in 2013.