Assistance to help California farmers, ranchers, and residents deal with the worst drought in history will be Feb. 14 by President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during a stop in Fresno.

For ranchers, the President and Ag Secretary intend to implement 2014 farm bill livestock disaster assistance with program sign up available by April 15, 2014. 

“President Obama and I will continue to do everything within our power to support California farmers, ranchers and families living in drought-stricken areas. This assistance, coupled with other aid being made available across government, should provide some relief during this difficult time,” said Vilsack.

“Thanks to the newly-signed Farm Bill, we are now able to offer long-awaited livestock disaster assistance, which will provide needed stability for California livestock producers impacted by drought,” the Agriculture Secretary said.

USDA has declared 54 counties in California as primary natural disaster areas due to drought.

Get the  latest agricultural news each day to your Inbox. Click here for the free Western Farm Press Daily e-mail newsletter.

The USDA resources announced for California and other drought-stricken states include:

  • $100 million in livestock disaster assistance for California producers.

The 2014 farm bill contains permanent livestock disaster programs including the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, which will help producers in California and other areas recover from the drought. At President Obama’s direction, USDA is making implementation of the disaster programs a top priority and plans to have the programs available for sign up in 60 days.

Producers can sign up for the livestock disaster programs for losses for losses from 2012-2014. While these livestock programs took over a year to get assistance out the door under the last farm bill, USDA has committed to cut that time by more than 80 percent and begin sign-up in April.

California alone could potentially receive up to $100 million for 2014 losses and up to $50 million for previous years.