Four regional meetings will bring together representatives from three federal offices and the USDA to determine long-term response to this summer's drought disaster.
USDA will coordinate with State and local partners, and work closely with the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to facilitate these meetings.
"The impact of drought can be felt in rural communities throughout the country," said Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He said the Obama Administration is working to help communities, farmers and ranchers cope with the drought.
"These meetings will provide an opportunity for federal representatives to work cooperatively with local and regional leaders to learn about drought related impacts and determine how to best use existing programs to help speed recovery efforts," he said.
The meetings will be coordinated through area partners, such as universities or business groups and state agencies, and will be invitational and regional in scope. Specific details will be announced later, but the meetings will be kicked off in Omaha, Nebraska, on October 9, with meetings to follow in Ohio, Colorado and Arkansas. The meetings will assess current and emerging drought recovery issues.
The meetings will explore issues ranging from infrastructure challenges to development and financing needs, attempting to look at the total recovery picture for the region. This team approach has been employed elsewhere and has proved to be an effective way to further local and regional recovery planning efforts by kick-starting a collaborative process among participants from the local community as well as subject matter experts.