WASHINGTON, D.C. -- USDA's Farm Service Agency will allocate close to $20.1 million in Emergency Conservation Program funding to 26 states affected by natural disasters.

"The Emergency Conservation Program is an important tool for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate and strengthen environmental stewardship of their lands," said Chuck Conner, deputy secretary of agriculture. "These funds will help farmers and ranchers rehabilitate farmland damaged by floods, drought, wildfires and other natural disasters in recent years."

ECP gives producers 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. Locally elected FSA county committees implement ECP for all disasters other than drought, which is done by FSA's national office.

Eligible producers receive cost-share assistance of up to 75 percent of the cost of approved practices, as determined by FSA county committees. The $20.1 million in ECP funds allocated today are from unused funds from various states.

Among the 26 states receiving the funding announced today are Texas and Oklahoma, which are continuing to face drought and severe wildfire conditions. Texas will receive more than $3.9 million, while Oklahoma will receive over $2.7 million.

FSA is allocating $20,142,400 in ECP funds to 26 states. See the full USDA release for the list of states, counties and amounts allocated. The natural disasters listed include flood, drought, ice storms, wildfires and tornadoes.

Producers can contact their local FSA offices regarding ECP sign-up periods, which are set by the county FSA committees. For a producer's land to be eligible, the disaster must create new conservation problems that, if left untreated, would impair or endanger the land and affect its productive capacity. Conservation problems that existed before the applicable disasters are not eligible for ECP assistance.

In addition, USDA has several other 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.

SOURCE: USDA news release.