Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said USDA has provided almost $2 million in Emergency Conservation Program funding to help farmers cope with natural disasters in Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah.

“These funds will help farmers and ranchers rehabilitate farmland damaged by various natural disasters throughout the country,” Veneman said. “We are able to provide this funding as a result of unused allocations from other states.”

The funding includes: $135,678 for flood damage in Alabama, $600,000 for drought in Colorado, $297,000 for drought in Idaho, $146,000 for tornado damage in Missouri, $20,000 for tornado damage in Mississippi, $42,500 for tornado damage in Oklahoma, $330,000 for drought in South Dakota, $39,800 for tornado and flood damage in Tennessee and $331,600 for drought in Utah.

The program provides for technical assistance to help producers remove debris from farmland, restore fences and conservation structures, provide water for livestock in drought situations and grade and shape farmland damaged by a natural disaster.

Cost-share aid

ECP is administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) state and county committees. Locally elected county committees are authorized to implement ECP for all disasters except drought, which is authorized at the national office of FSA.

ECP funds may, in some cases, be used to cover requests already approved for which funding was previously unavailable. Eligible producers will receive cost-share assistance of up to 64 percent of the cost of the approved practice, as determined by FSA county committees.

Producers should check with their local FSA offices regarding ECP sign-up periods, which are set by the county FSA committees. The committees determine producer eligibility based on on-site inspections of damage. For a producer's land to be eligible, the disaster must create new conservation problems that, if untreated, would impair or endanger the land and affect its productive capacity.

Conservation problems existing prior to the applicable disaster are ineligible for ECP assistance.

USDA offers additional programs to help farmers and ranchers recover from damages caused by natural disasters. These programs include the Emergency Loan Program, Federal Crop Insurance, Crop Disaster Program and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

More information on ECP and other disaster assistance programs is available at local FSA offices and online at: http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov/.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com