Though much of the state saw some much-needed rain this past week, the drought continues on in South Dakota. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map, dated June 13, shows that severe drought conditions continue to persist in the North Central region of S.D. with only about 20% of the state experiencing normal conditions. It is a safe bet that everyone in S.D. would welcome more precipitation—and soon.
Emergency Assistance Programs
As drought conditions continue, counties within the hardest hit areas have an opportunity to apply for emergency funding for farmers and ranchers requiring assistance with water relief and water conservation measures through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA).
Emergency Conservation Program
The first program is called the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). FSA county committees can request authorization from the FSA national office to administer the program if it can be shown that county precipitation averages are at least 40% below normal, or a U.S. Drought Monitor D3 (Extreme Drought) designation occurs anywhere within the county in question at any time. If approved, producers will have a 30 to 60-day window to apply for cost-share assistance to implement certain emergency water conservation practices. ECP participants may receive up to 75% of the installation costs for approved practices such as water tanks, pipeline, rural water hookups, well construction, etc. Qualified limited-resource producers may receive cost-share assistance up to 90% of installation costs. ECP participants will need to demonstrate that an adequate water source existed prior to the drought and that the need for practice replacement can be attributed to drought and not poor maintenance. Dugout cleanouts are no longer a practice supported by the Emergency Conservation Program.
Emergency Assistance for:
Livestock, Honeybees & Farm-Raised Fish Program
Another program administered by USDA FSA during times of severe drought is the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). Program eligibility requires a D3 designation from the U.S. Drought Monitor. Among other provisions, ELAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers for losses resulting from the cost of transporting water to livestock due to adverse weather conditions. Producers will need to demonstrate that the pastureland or grazing land is physically located in the county where the D3 designation occurred, had adequate livestock watering systems or facilities before the eligible drought occurred, and that the hauling of water by the producer is not a normal activity.
For more information on drought assistance, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency.