On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the USDA will target nearly $16 million in financial and technical assistance to help eligible crop and livestock producers in 19 states cope with adverse impacts of the historic drought gripping the nation. Jane Hardisty, State Conservationist for Indiana’s Natural Resources Conservation Service said, “Because Indiana is among those states with exceptional, or the most severe, drought, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has received 3.5 million dollars to help Hoosier farmers.” Hardisty goes on to say the agency will make these funds available through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) to producers and landowners who are interested in applying conservation practices that will assist drought stricken producers, and improve soil health and productivity, while benefiting Indiana’s wildlife.
Late last week, Hardisty announced a special sign up in Indiana for WHIP funds for practices such as deferred grazing, cover crops, upland wildlife habitat establishment, wildlife cover establishment, livestock watering facilities and water conservation practices. The deadline for applications is August 20, 2012. These funds were made available from NRCS’s existing funds from its WHIP program to target states experiencing exceptional and extreme drought.
In today’s announcement, Vilsack said, “President Obama and I continue to work across the federal government to provide relief for those farmers and ranchers who are affected by the severe drought conditions impacting many states across our nation.” He went on to say, “This additional assistance builds on a number of steps USDA has taken over the past few weeks to provide resources and flexibility in our existing programs.”
USDA has also announced the following measures to assist with drought impacts:
- Allowing producers to modify current EQIP contracts to allow for grazing, livestock watering, and other conservation activities to address drought conditions.
- Authorizing haying and grazing of Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and Floodplain Easement areas in drought-affected areas where haying and grazing is consistent with conservation of wildlife habitat and wetlands.
- Allowing producers with existing Farm Bill contracts to request funds to re-apply failed practices, and allowing contract modifications to reschedule practices that cannot be installed as planned due to drought conditions.
Additional information about drought resources, including fact sheets, job sheets, program guidance, links to maps and other resources, etc. is located on a special NRCS drought website: www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/drought.html. Interested producers should visit their local USDA-NRCS field office to talk with staff. Visit www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/directory/field_offices.html to find the nearest USDA Service Center. For a complete list of states included in the USDA announcement, go to www.nrcs.usda.gov.