Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week an important package of disaster assistance to help farmers, land owners, communities and others recover and rebuild after a year in which a wave of natural disasters swept across all regions of the United States. The funding, totaling $308 million, provides financial and technical assistance to help rebuild and repair land damaged on account of flooding, drought, tornadoes and other natural disasters in 33 states and Puerto Rico. Funding is provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) as well as the Farm Service Agency's Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP).
The EWP will contribute $215.7 million to provide financial and technical assistance to address public safety and restoration efforts on private, public and tribal lands. When funding is allocated to a project, NRCS contracts the heavy construction work to local contractors, spurring creation of jobs. Typical projects funded under EWP include removing debris from waterways, protecting eroded stream banks, reseeding damaged areas and, in some cases, purchasing floodplain easements on eligible land. A list of states and their fiscal year 2012 EWP program allocations can be viewed at www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/landscape/ewpp.
The ECP program will contribute $80 million to producers to help remove debris from farmland, restore livestock fences and conservation structures, provide water for livestock during periods of severe drought and grade and shape farmland damaged by a natural disaster. FSA county committees determine eligibility based on on-site inspections of damaged land and considering the type and extent of damage. For land to be eligible, the natural disaster must create new conservation problems.
The EFRP program will provide $12 million in payments to eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest land in order to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster.
A list of states and their fiscal year 2012 ECP and EFRP allocations can be viewed at www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/20120108_ecp_efrp_table.pdf.