March 3rd Deadline for Drought-related Conservation Funds

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) reminds interested farmers and ranchers that they have until March 3, 2014, to apply for $25 million in drought-related conservation assistance. Farmers and ranchers should consult with their local NRCS offices as soon as possible in order to apply for assistance.

NRCS California can help farmers and ranchers understand the options for their particular water situation, soil type and production goals and develop a plan to get through this drought. Soil conservation practices for fallow land include cover crops, residue management, mulching and other complimentary practices.

To help ranchers suffering from drought conditions, NRCS can offer practices such as livestock well development, piping, troughs, and fencing.  For some ranchers, this may allow livestock to take advantage of available grass while protecting vulnerable ranch resources.

Finally, for farmers who have access to water and want to make every drop count, NRCS can provide improved irrigation hardware with an irrigation management plan to optimize efficiency.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $20 million in drought assistance through NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) on February 4 and President Barak Obama enlarged the conservation cost share assistance to $25 million during his California visit on Feb. 14. The program is strictly voluntary and producers share in the cost of the work.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is also providing drought assistance through the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to consult with their local offices to gain a full understanding of the drought assistance options available from both agencies. FSA and NRCS are often co-located in service centers throughout California.