USDA releases funds to repair land damage

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer has announced that farmers and ranchers will receive USDA funding to repair land damage created by natural disasters in 34 states since September 2007.

Producers will use the $87.5 million in Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funding for removal of farmland debris, restoring fences and repairing conservation structures which were caused or damaged by floods, and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures in response to severe drought.

"This funding will allow farmers and ranchers to repair the unusually harsh damage to conservation efforts caused by the disaster conditions, notably flooding and drought," said Schafer. "USDA has worked shoulder to shoulder with producers when weather turns against them, and we remain involved to help in the weeks and months of recovery afterward."

For land to be eligible, the natural disaster must create new conservation problems that:

• If untreated, will impair or endanger the land;

• Materially affect the land's productive capacity;

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

• Would 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 eligibility. Conservation problems existing prior to the disaster are not eligible for cost-share assistance. FSA county committees determine land eligibility based on on-site inspections of damage, taking into account the type and extent of damage.

A detailed list of counties and associated specific disasters is on FSA's Web site.

A national map with a visual depiction of the affected counties and disaster types is on the FSA Web site.

The $87.5 million comes from an appropriation of $89.4 million for ECP. The remainder will be allocated as additional requests are processed.

For further information on eligibility requirements as well as applications, producers may visit their local FSA office or go online to the FSA Web site.

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