Ag Wire: NRCS announces new drought relief programs

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service continues to work to provide as much relief to drought-impacted producers as possible. NRCS State Conservationist Eric B. Banks announced the agency will assist producers through a new drought recovery initiative and provide financial and technical assistance in a new water quantity and drought pilot funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The drought has caused serious degradation to many natural resources in Kansas including wildlife, wildlife cover, livestock forage, livestock water, and soil quality.

“We know farmers and ranchers around the state have been hit hard by the drought,” Banks said. “NRCS will work with producers to address water quantity-related natural resource concerns using the conservation planning process.”

Under the new pilot program, NRCS will conduct a site assessment with the producer, identify alternatives to meet the producer’s natural resource concerns, develop a conservation plan, and if priority criteria are met, EQIP funding may be available.

The drought recovery initiative will also be supported through EQIP and may be a source of assistance to mitigate the short-term or long-term effects of drought.

EQIP assistance includes costs directly related to conservation practices as they relate to structures approved for sediment removal, such as cover crops, critical area planting, fencing, mulching, pipeline, prescribed grazing, and watering facility.

“I would encourage producers who are impacted by the drought to visit their local NRCS field office to learn more about the assistance available,” Banks said.

Applicants who do not qualify for funding through the water quantity and drought pilot may be eligible through alternate funding sources, including the drought recovery initiative.

While NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis, NRCS will use two application cutoff dates for these drought programs: May 17 and June 21, 2013.

Conservation practices must be implemented to NRCS standards and specifications. In Kansas, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for eligible conservation practices applied.

For more information about NRCS and its programs, stop by the USDA Service Center, 115 W. 17th St., Lyndon, or call (785) 828-4631.

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