USDA To Invest $21M To Help Growers Cope With Drought

USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will allocate $21 million for growers and ranchers to apply conservation practices in the severe drought-stricken areas. Financial aid and technical assistance will be available to producers in eight states to increase irrigation efficiency, improve soil health and productivity, and ensure reliable water sources.

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“Every day, NRCS conservationists work side-by-side with agricultural producers and help them conserve water and increase resilience in their operations,” says Tom Vilsack, USDA secretary. “Today’s investment will provide additional resources in drought-stricken areas to help farmers and ranchers implement solutions to mitigate the impacts of sustained drought.”

This announcement comes on the heels of several programs to help growers and ranchers conserve water, improve soil health, and build long-term agricultural resilience. Several state offices of NRCS have allocated significant portions of their Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to focus on drought management. In California, more than $27 million of fiscal year 2015 EQIP funding is earmarked for water conservation.

The financial assistance announced today will target areas with extreme drought conditions including parts of California, Kansas, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Utah.

This funding will help defray the cost as producers apply water conservation practices including cover crops, nutrient management, and irrigation systems. According to NRCS, growers and ranchers contribute half the cost of implementing these practices on average.

NRCS has invested more than $1.5 billion in financial and technical assistance to growers to aid in implementing conservation practices. NRCS is also partnering with the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to help fund projects that focus on water conservation and resilience. NRCS last year committed more than $84 million in 35 projects in the first round of RCPP funding, which was matched dollar-for-dollar by partners.

Vilsack recently announced a second round of RCPP funding will be available which will total $235 million available for drought and water conservation.

To learn more about these drought programs, visit a listing of NRCS programs, NRCS’ drought resources, National Drought Resilience Partnership, and USDA Disaster and Drought Information.

Source: USDA news release