Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack briefed President Barack Obama on the drought situation, which he described as the “most serious situation we’ve had probably in 25 years.” The secretary has said the full extent of the drought’s damage will not be known until harvest, but it will result in sharply higher commodity prices and increased pressure on the livestock sector. USDA designated 39 additional counties in eight states as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat. During the 2012 crop year, USDA has designated 1,297 counties across 29 states as disaster areas, making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans. Last week,USDA designated the entire state of Missouri a disaster area. As of July 10, 78% of the corn crop and 77% of the soybean crop has been impacted by the drought.