Hyde-Smith, AG secretary discuss USDA aid options for tornado victims

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, March 30, 2023

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), of Brookhaven, spoke Wednesday with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) resources available to Mississippians affected by the deadly tornadoes that tore across Mississippi on Friday.

Hyde-Smith used a Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the FY2024 USDA budget request to thank Vilsack for his department’s response following the tornadoes and to ask the Secretary to review disaster recovery services offered by USDA.

“First of all, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your staff reaching out to us over the weekend with the Mississippi tornadoes.  Within hours after the storm, they were reaching out to the Mississippi delegation, and I certainly appreciate that,” Hyde-Smith said.  “Seeing that devastation firsthand, we have just gone into that mode of just trying to help those people as much as we can.”

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“Our heart goes out.  As a former governor, I have toured many tornado-damaged sites,” Vilsack said.  “It’s absolutely devastating to people.  They lose their home in a matter of seconds, and unfortunately, in your state, the loss of life as well.”

In addition to consulting the Farmers.gov website and a Disaster Assistance at a Glance brochure, Vilsack encouraged Mississippi officials, businesses, farmers, and others harmed by the storm to engage with USDA Rural Development and Farm Service Agency representatives to determine assistance options.

“The Rural Development folks can be there to begin the process of figuring out, how do we rebuild, how do we create the opportunities for housing, for the community facilities that have been damaged or destroyed, what kind of resources can be available,” Vilsack explained.

“The Farm Service folks are there, obviously, to begin the process of assessing the level of damage so that crop insurance and any risk management tools, as you well know from your experience as commissioner of agriculture down there, that we provide as quickly a response to the loss of production as possible,” he added.

Hyde-Smith also noted that USDA disaster assistance information, as well as links to help from other agencies, is available on a Tornado Relief page she added to her website on Monday.

“We’re going to recover.  There’s no doubt.  We have some great folks there,” Hyde-Smith concluded.