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Hyde-Smith seeks USDA assistance for flood-damaged North Miss.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today said recovering from damage to crops and rural infrastructure caused by catastrophic flooding in north Mississippi last week may necessitate a disaster declaration and emergency appropriations.

Hyde-Smith on Tuesday addressed Mississippi flood damage with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during a Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing.  Vilsack committed to helping the state, but acknowledged a lack of available unobligated funding through relevant U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assistance programs.

“The scope of the flood damage in the Delta and north Mississippi remains to be told, but it is very significant,” Hyde-Smith said following the hearing.  “I appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s commitment to help our producers and rural communities, but fully recognize that a federal disaster declaration and emergency appropriations may be required for delivering assistance as soon as possible.”

During the hearing, Hyde-Smith sought Vilsack’s input on the availability of resources through programs like USDA Rural Development, the Natural Resources Conservation Service Emergency Watershed Protection Program, and Farm Service Agency disaster loan assistance, and others.

“I wish I had a better answer,” Vilsack told Hyde-Smith.  “I will tell you, we will challenge our staff to take a look and scour our programs, and we will get back to you with whatever we think is feasible and possible for as quick relief as we can provide.  But unfortunately, some of these programs have been utilized already during this year, and there’s very little money left.”