When USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced more funding to help farmers in 19 drought-plagued states, it's no wonder that Indiana NRCS received some $3.5 million for direct assistance to producers out of the $16 million NRCS was allotted nationally.
Indiana state conservationist for NRCS, Jane Hardisty, was pressing Washington for many of the programs they announced weeks before the official announcement. ISDA Undersecretary Harris Sherman says Indiana was very aggressive in trying to obtain funds and use programs to help people caught in a bind.
Relaxing some of the rules and allowing grazing on WRP and FRP acres will primarily help people with livestock. However, there will be cost-sharing that could help anyone, Sherman says. A good share of it will be devoted to cost share for practices including establishing cover crops to help capture nutrients left in the field where little crop was produced. One of the major nutrients they would like to capture is nitrogen so that it doesn't end up in surface waters and lakes and streams.
Livestock producers can also apply for funds for installing watering systems and for many other practices related to helping them get through a tough year. In addition, Sherman says that the federal announcement included provisions for people who put in practices that failed due to weather to have a chance to redo the practices. It also includes provisions for someone who can't do a practice due to extreme changes in their operation due to drought.
Hardisty says the best thing to do is visit with your local NRCS office, and learn exactly what programs are available that might fit your operation. You may also want to visit your local FSA office. Before allowing any haying or grazing on any land in government programs, be sure to visit with both offices first, she advises.