U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Feb. 4 that USDA will make $20 million available for water conservation efforts throughout California to combat the effects of the drought. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement during a joint press conference with California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross and Congressman Jim Costa, D-16.
The funding will come through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Funds are available statewide to install a number of conservation practices including irrigation efficiency, cover crops, rehabilitation of existing spring developments and protection of grazing lands.
“This partnership with the federal government will provide additional help to California’s farmers and ranchers during this severe drought, says Secretary Ross. “We’re working with all of our partners across California to make sure these resources get to those who need them most.”
Funds will be divided between two specific funding pools: cropland and grazing lands. Cropland with a reduced water allocation of at least 85% will receive the highest priority. Interested landowners and managers have until March 3, 2014, to apply for available funds.
For additional information, producers are encouraged to contact their local NRCS Service Center. Service center locations and more information on the drought initiative can be found at www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov.