Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $11.8 million in additional financial and technical assistance to help crop and livestock producers in 22 states apply conservation practices that reduce the impacts of drought and improve soil health and productivity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service provides this assistance through its Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
Today's announcement expands upon previous relief efforts and brings the total assistance to nearly $28 million. The additional funding will allow NRCS to address the backlog in applications from the previous drought assistance signup, as well as accept new applications from producers interested in applying selected conservation practices to address drought, including prescribed grazing, livestock watering facilities and water conservation practices.
Producers can also apply for financial assistance to re-install conservation practices that failed due to drought. See the additional NRCS drought assistance received by each state here.
"As this drought continues to impact American farming and ranching families, USDA will be there to help our agriculture sector recover," said Vilsack. "This additional assistance builds on a number of steps USDA and other federal agencies have taken over the past few months to provide resources and flexibility in our existing programs to help producers endure these hardships. But Congress also needs to act, and the urgency to pass a comprehensive, multi-year food, farm and jobs bill is greater than ever."
Funding from NRCS targets states that are experiencing either exceptional or extreme drought conditions. Exceptional drought continues to dominate sections of Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming, causing widespread losses of crops and pastures and water shortages in reservoirs, streams and wells.
Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina and Utah are under extreme drought, with accompanying major losses of crops and pasture, widespread water shortages and restrictions on water use.
Producers and landowners are encouraged to visit the NRCS website or stop by their local NRCS office to find out if they are eligible for this new funding. Learn more about WHIP and EQIP and other NRCS programs.