FSA programs explained: Emergency conservation | TSLN.com

FSA programs explained: Emergency conservation

For the April 16, 2011 edition of Tri-State Livestock News.

The weather can be disastrous. In South Dakota, we have to contend with drought, tornadoes, flood, blizzards and thunderstorms, just to name a few. These devastating weather conditions can destroy land, crops, river banks, and stock dams. The Farm Service Agency has a program called the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) that can provide 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.

The ECP offers practices to remove debris and restore fences and conservation structures during flooding or provide water for livestock during a drought.

The local County Committee determines land eligibility depending upon whether the disaster created a conservation problem that, if left untreated, would: impair the land, affect the land’s productivity, represent damage that does not recur frequently and be so costly that federal assistance would be required to restore the land.

Program participants may receive cost-share assistance of up to 75 percent of the cost to implement emergency conservation practices. County Committees may approve up to $50,000 per producer, per disaster. The State Committee and National Office may approve funding in excess of $50,000.

The ECP is a standing program that requires funding requests from the County Committee. This means that a producer cannot walk in off of the street and submit an application. The County Committee must first determine that a condition exists that would require Emergency Conservation Program funds. The County Committee would then announce a sign-up period for the county for producers to submit an application. Upon receipt of the ECP funds, the County Committee would rank all of the received applications and obligate funds based upon the ranking. Sometimes all of the applications do not receive funding. If this happens, lower ranking applications may receive funds if additional funds become available.

Input from the local producers is vital to the success of the ECP. If producers are suffering conservation issues as a result of a natural disaster such as floods, thunderstorms, etc., producers should contact their local County Committee member and inform them of the issue.

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In addition to the ECP, the Farm Service Agency has added an additional emergency conservation program call the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP). This program is administered similar to the Emergency Conservation Program. The main difference between these programs is that the EFRP was designed to provide cost-share assistance for nonindustrial private forests. Cost-share assistance is available to nonindustrial private forest land owners to restore their private forest land destroyed by natural disaster conditions. In order to be eligible for assistance, the natural disaster that caused the damage must have impaired the natural resources of the land and substantially affected the future use of the land.

For additional information about the Emergency Conservation Program or the Emergency Forest Restoration Program, contact your local Farm Service Agency Service Center.

james neill is the county executive director for the farm service agency in meade county, sd and can be contacted at james.neill@sd.usda.gov. questions about the emergency conservation programs or any other farm service agency program should be directed to your local farm service agency service center.

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