Amid the onslaught of wildfires that have torn through the agricultural communities of four states, the response from the leadership of the nation’s top agricultural office was often called into question. For those who have lost herds and livelihoods and for those who have stepped in to help, the need is apparent.
Now, two days before Agricultural Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue will go before Congress for his confirmation hearing, the USDA announced that it is making more than $6 million in funding available to help farmers and ranchers affected by wildfires in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas (this is not a typo — Colorado wasn’t mentioned in the news release).
The wildfires have killed seven people, scorched more than a million acres, and left tens of thousands of cattle dead.
The new funding, by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, will assist local producers as they begin to restore scorched grazing land, rebuild fencing, protect damaged watersheds, and implement various conservation measures to mitigate losses.
Producers must submit a complete program application, establish “farm records”, and other documentation to support eligibility to be considered for financial assistance through EQIP. Step-by-step assistance can be found here. States will begin accepting applications in the near future.
“We have seen the devastating effects of these wildfires on agricultural operations and the funding announced today can help communities of farmers and ranchers start the process of recovery,” said Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Young. “USDA is here to offer assistance, and I encourage producers who experienced losses to take full advantage of our financial and technical assistance to aid in their recovery efforts and alleviate part of the financial burden caused by these tragic events.”