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USDA provides funds to rehabilitate farmland damaged by floods, hurricanes, other disasters

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack July 14 announced that farmers and ranchers will receive approximately $71 million in Emergency Conservation Program funds to repair farmland damaged by natural disasters that happened in 2008 and 2009.

The money will be used to remove farmland debris; restore fences; grade and shape land; repair conservation structures that were damaged by floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, storms and wildfires, and carry out emergency water conservation measures after severe drought.

"President Obama and I are committed to helping farmers and ranchers restore farmland, fences and conservation measures devastated by disasters, and to help stimulate the rural economies affected by these disasters," said Vilsack. "USDA has always worked hand in hand with producers during disasters, and we will continue to do so throughout the recovery process."

For land to be eligible, the natural disaster must have created conservation problems that, if untreated, would:

--impair or endanger the land;

--materially affect the land's productive capacity;

--represent unusual damage that, except for wind erosion, is not likely to recur frequently in the same area; and

--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 land to be eligible. Conservation issues that existed before the disaster are not eligible for cost-share assistance. USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees determine land eligibility based on on-site inspections of damage, taking into account the type and extent of damage.

The states and estimated dollar amounts for this round of Emergency Conservation Program funding are:

Alabama $1,927,000

Arkansas $5,759,000

California $50,000

Florida $753,000

Georgia $1,849,000

Indiana $5,000

Kentucky $30,500,000

Maine $20,000

Massachusetts $2,567,000

Mississippi $179,000

Missouri $1,364,000

Montana $265,000

Nebraska $791,000

Nevada $60,000

New Hampshire $126,000

New Mexico $75,000

North Carolina $10,000

North Dakota $5,579,000

Oklahoma $1,040,000

South Dakota $1,073,000

Tennessee $2,767,000

Texas 12,860,000

Utah 238,000

Vermont 260,000

Virginia 119,000

Washington $572,000

Grand Total $70,808,000

A detailed list of counties and associated specific disasters is on FSA's website at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/ecpcounties3.pdf.

A national map with a visual depiction of the affected counties and disaster types is on the FSA website at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/ecpmap3.pdf.

The remainder of these funds will be allocated as additional requests are processed. For further information on eligibility requirements as well as applications, producers may visit their FSA county office or online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

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