USDA will offer a special signup through the Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help those farmers and ranchers impacted by the devastating blizzard that swept through western South Dakota earlier this month, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Ag Services Michael Scuse announced today. The EQIP signup will run through Nov. 15, 2013. USDA hopes to start providing assistance as soon as this week.
EQIP assistance will help producers dispose of livestock carcasses, replace destroyed fencing, and rebuild shelterbelts and other conservation practices that were damaged by the storm.
Scuse also encouraged producers to submit forms to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to document their losses with the hopes Congress will soon pass a Farm Bill to reauthorize the expired livestock disaster assistance programs. "Due to the lack of a new Farm Bill, our means to help are limited -- but we will do all we can," he said.
Scuse noted that NRCS is working in partnership with the state of South Dakota to provide the greatest possible amount of assistance. NRCS is entering into an agreement with the state to share in the cost of deploying additional state and local personnel into the field to help producers perform impact assessments on their operations and identify sites for carcass disposal. This additional assistance will also help perform outreach for the EQIP signup and support producers with their applications.
NRCS is also providing the state government with technical information, such as soils information and technical practice standards, and the state is using this information to work directly with agricultural partners and individual producers to provide assistance.