Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that farmers and ranchers will receive approximately $71 million in Emergency Conservation Program funds to repair farmland damaged by natural disasters that happened in 2008 and 2009.

The money will be used to remove farmland debris; restore fences; grade and shape land; repair conservation structures that were damaged by floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, storms and wildfires, and carry out emergency water conservation measures after severe drought.

"President Obama and I are committed to helping farmers and ranchers restore farmland, fences and conservation measures devastated by disasters, and to help stimulate the rural economies affected by these disasters," said Vilsack. "USDA has always worked hand in hand with producers during disasters, and we will continue to do so throughout the recovery process."

For land to be eligible, the natural disaster must have created conservation problems that, if untreated, would:

• impair or endanger the land;

• materially affect the land's productive capacity;

• represent unusual damage that, except for wind erosion, is not likely to recur frequently in the same area;

• be so costly to repair that federal assistance is or will be required to return the land to productive agricultural use.

All of the above conditions must be met for land to be eligible. Conservation issues that existed before the disaster are not eligible for cost-share assistance. USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees determine land eligibility based on on-site inspections of damage, taking into account the type and extent of damage.

The states and estimated dollar amounts for this round of Emergency Conservation Program funding are:

• Alabama $1,927,000

• Arkansas $5,759,000

• California $50,000

• Florida $753,000

• Georgia $1,849,000

• Indiana $5,000

• Kentucky $30,500,000

• Maine $20,000

• Massachusetts $2,567,000

• Mississippi $179,000

• Missouri $1,364,000

• Montana $265,000

•Nebraska $791,000

• Nevada $60,000

• New Hampshire $126,000

• New Mexico $75,000

• North Carolina $10,000

• North Dakota $5,579,000

• Oklahoma $1,040,000

• South Dakota $1,073,000

• Tennessee $2,767,000

• Texas $12,860,000

• Utah $238,000

• Vermont $260,000

• Virginia $119,000

• Washington $572,000

• Grand Total $70,808,000

A detailed list of counties and associated specific disasters is on FSA's Web site at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/ecpcounties3.pdf.

A national map with a visual depiction of the affected counties and disaster types is on the FSA Web site at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/ecpmap3.pdf.

The remainder of these funds will be allocated as additional requests are processed. For further information on eligibility requirements as well as applications, producers may visit their FSA county office or online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.