August 17th, 2007 07:54 EST
USDA is distributing $16 million in new Emergency Conservation Program
Under Secretary of Agriculture Mark Keenum today announced that USDA is distributing $16 million in new Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funding to help farmers and ranchers in 18 states to rehabilitate land damaged by natural disasters or drought.
"Floods, tornadoes, drought and other weather-related disasters have adversely affected agricultural land in portions of the country this year," said Keenum. "These Emergency Conservation Program funds will assist producers back on the road to setting things right again."
The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007, P.L. 110-28, signed by President Bush on May 25, 2007, authorized the $16 million in ECP funds. Unlike other ECP funding, the new $16 million excludes participants whose income exceeds certain levels. Also, under existing regulations, payments are limited to $200,000 per "person" per disaster. Producers may apply for ECP funding through applicable local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) service centers.
ECP provides emergency funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought. FSA county committees determine land eligibility based on on-site inspections of damage, taking into account the type and extent of damage.
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 which, except for wind erosion, is not 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.
Stevin Westcott (202) 720 4178
Keith Williams (202) 720-4623