Nebraska Farmers to Receive USDA Disaster Assistance

By: Courtesy: Office of Sen. Ben Nelson Email
By: Courtesy: Office of Sen. Ben Nelson Email

Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture announcement of a disaster relief package that will help Nebraska farmers, ranchers and agricultural communities recover and rebuild after last year’s floods.

“Many of Nebraska’s agricultural producers took major hits last summer, as more than 100,000 acres of land for growing and grazing were under water in our state. The assistance made available today will help our agricultural communities move forward and plan for a brighter future,” Senator Nelson said.

Farms across the country were hit extremely hard by natural disasters in the past year – including floods, droughts and tornadoes – causing unprecedented levels of damage and resulting in billions of dollars in clean-up costs in 33 different states.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau estimated 2011 farm losses from Missouri River flooding at $189 million.

The funding announced today comes from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP), and the Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP).

Nebraska will receive $9.3 million from the ECP and more than $1.5 million from the EWP.

This funding was made available because of an important amendment added during the most recent agriculture appropriations process in the Senate. The amendment provided additional funding for emergency farmland clean-up and rehabilitation through the ECP and EWP to help meet the increased need created by last year’s disasters.

Nelson supported the amendment, and it passed by a vote of 58-41 on October 20, 2011.

Money from the ECP is used to help producers 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. ECP is administered by state and county Farm Service Agency committees, which determine land eligibility based on on-site inspections of damage.

Money from the EWP is used to provide financial and technical assistance to address public safety and restoration efforts on private, public and tribal lands. 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. Both public and private landowners are eligible for EWP assistance, but private landowners must be represented by a municipality or tribal organization.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the disaster assistance funding this afternoon.

“America’s farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation’s economy, producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow. This funding will help to rebuild communities, while states can use the funds to carry out emergency recovery measures. At the same time, this assistance keeps farmers on the farm, ranchers on the ranch, and landowners on their land, helping to keep American agriculture profitable,” Vilsack said.

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