Additional Assistance to Californians Impacted by Drought
February 14, 2014

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined President Obama in Fresno, Calif., this week to announce that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide additional assistance to help farmers, ranchers and residents affected by severe drought in California. At the President's direction, USDA has made implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill livestock disaster assistance programs a top priority and plans to have the programs available for sign up by April 15. 
 
USDA has declared 54 counties in California as primary natural disaster areas due to drought. A couple critical resources for California's sheep producers and other drought-stricken states include:
 
$100 million in livestock disaster assistance for California producers. The Farm Bill contains permanent livestock disaster programs including the Livestock Forage Disaster Program. Producers will be able to sign up for the livestock disaster programs for losses not only for 2014 but for losses they experienced in 2012 and 2013. USDA has committed to begin sign-up in April. California alone could potentially receive up to $100 million for 2014 losses and up to $50 million for previous years.
$15 million in targeted conservation assistance for the most extreme and exceptional drought areas. This includes $5 million in additional assistance to California and $10 million for drought-impacted areas in Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico. The funding is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program administered by USDA.
As USDA begins implementing disaster assistance programs, producers should record all pertinent information of natural disaster consequences, including documentation of the number and kind of livestock that have died, supplemented if possible by photographs or video records of ownership and losses; dates of death supported by birth recordings or purchase receipts; costs of transporting livestock to safer grounds or to move animals to new pastures; feed purchases if supplies or grazing pastures are destroyed; crop records, including seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records; pictures of on-farm storage facilities that were destroyed by wind or flood waters; and evidence of damaged farm land. 
 
For more information, visit the USDA drought resource page at www.usda.gov/drought.