Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner announced June 29 that USDA will begin allocating $11.8 million in Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funding for 18 states to help producers rehabilitate land damaged by natural disasters.

"Excessive rainfall, flooding, drought and other severe weather conditions have taken a toll on our farm and ranchlands," says Conner. "These Emergency Conservation Program funds will help assist farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate and restore conservation practices on their lands."

ECP gives producers additional resources to remove debris from farmland, restore fences and conservation structures, provide water for livestock in drought situations and grade and shape farmland damaged by a natural disaster. The program is administered by USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) state and county committees. Eligible producers will receive cost-share assistance of up to 75 percent of the cost of the approved practice, as determined by FSA county committees.

The 18 states will receive the following in ECP funds:

Arkansas $643,000

Arizona $27,000

California $255,000

Colorado $413,000

Georgia $73,000

Hawaii $957,000

Illinois $12,000

Kentucky $215,000

Missouri $1,676,300

Nevada $493,000

New Hampshire $48,000

New Mexico $1,092,000

Oklahoma $532,000

South Dakota $1,963,000

Tennessee $2,328,800

Texas $120,000

Utah $120,000

Vermont $396,700

Total $11,815,100

Producers should check with their local FSA offices regarding ECP sign-up periods, which are established by county FSA committees. For a producer's land to be eligible, the disaster must create new conservation problems that, if untreated, would impair or endanger the land, materially affect its productive capacity, represent damage that is unusual in character and be so costly to rehabilitate that federal assistance is required to return the land to productive agricultural use. Conservation problems existing prior to the applicable disaster are ineligible for ECP assistance.

USDA offers additional programs to help farmers and ranchers recover from damages caused by natural disasters. These programs include the Emergency Loan Program, Federal Crop Insurance and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

More information on ECP and other disaster assistance programs is available at local FSA offices and online at: http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.