The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that more than $6 million in funding is now available for those affected by the wildfires in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
The funding, delivered through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, will assist farmers and ranchers as they attempt to restore grazing lands, rehabilitate devastated landscapes, rebuild fencing and protect damaged watersheds, according to a news release.
“The availability of USDA conservation funds targeted toward restoring land impacted by the fires is appreciated," said Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, who visited southern Kansas and spoke to ranchers March 12. "I have asked USDA to provide maximum flexibility in administering the federal assistance programs in response to the disaster, and will continue to make clear the urgent need for more immediate assistance to those impacted.”
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, who is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, also praised the USDA's swift action. He visited the burned region from Dodge to Clark County on March 10.
“For many Kansans, the impacts are devastating because the fires not only consumed livestock, grazing lands, and fencing – but in some cases, homes, machinery and equipment, too," he said in a statement.
“We are still learning lessons from the response to the Anderson Creek fires from last year that can be applied to this response and recovery effort,” Roberts said.
EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices that address local and state resource concerns. 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 at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted.
States will begin accepting applications in the near future. Producers in the affected counties are encouraged to check with their local NRCS service centers for additional information.