Additional Drought Assistance Announced by USDA
U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA will provide nearly 30-million dollars to producers struggling with drought conditions. The department will utilize nearly 16-million dollars in financial and technical assistance to immediately help crop and livestock producers in 19 states deal with the impacts of the ongoing drought. USDA will also initiate a transfer of 14-million dollars to the Emergency Conservation Program. The funds can be used to assist in moving water to livestock in need, providing emergency forage for livestock and rehabilitating lands severely impacted by the drought. Vilsack notes this assistance builds on other steps USDA has taken in recent weeks to provide resources and flexibility in existing programs to help producers endure these serious hardships.
With USDA's announcement - the Natural Resources Conservation Service is using 16-million dollars in existing funds from the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program to target states experiencing exceptional and extreme drought. NRCS state conservationists will announce special signups for the funds - which will allow eligible producers to apply for selected conservation practices - including prescribed grazing, livestock watering facilities and water conservation practices. Eligible producers also can re-apply for financial assistance to re-install or re-apply failed conservation practices due to drought and modify existing contracts to re-schedule planned conservation practices.
The Farm Service Agency will transfer the 14-million dollars in unobligated program funds into the Emergency Conservation Program. ECP provides emergency funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought. It also provides resources to help producers restore livestock fences.
President Obama convened his White House Rural Council Tuesday to review Executive Branch response actions and to develop additional policy initiatives to assist drought-stricken Americans. New measures were announced - including this USDA funding - and the President stressed the need for the entire Administration to continue to look at further steps it can take to ease the pain of the historic drought.
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