Sec. Vilsack surveys damage in tornado-ravaged South

By Stewart Doan

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 WASHINGTON, May 1 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Sunday toured the areas hardest hit by last week's tornadoes, describing the damage in an exclusive interview with Agri-Pulse as the most significant, widespread and devastating that he's ever seen. 

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Vilsack was among a handful of Obama Cabinet members who traveled to Alabama and Mississippi to meet families affected by the storms, as well as meet with state and local officials and to view damage and assess the initial recovery efforts already underway.  

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has made immediately available $6 million in Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program aid for disaster recovery projects in 10 states affected this month by storms and floods.  These states are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. In partnership and through local government sponsors, the EWP Program provides assistance to areas that have been damaged by natural disasters, such as floods, windstorms, drought, and wildfires. The EWP Program safeguards lives and property by installing conservation measures to reduce storm water runoff and prevent soil erosion, as well as remove watershed impairments such as debris caught in culverts and under bridges.


For an audio recap of the USDA Chief's trip to the South plus his thoughts on the Mississippi River floods and the possible activation of an emergency floodway in Missouri, click on

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