USDA accepting disaster assistance applications from producers with derecho-related damage

Dominik Dausch
Farm Forum

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency is providing a lifeline to producers who suffered significant damage during the May 12 derecho.

The Farm Service Agency is accepting applications for the Emergency Conservation Program, a cost-share that provides funding and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers from Codington and surrounding counties with disaster-related damages.

The program will cover up to 75% of the cost to restore structures and land to working condition, according to a news release. Limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers and ranchers may be covered up to 90%. The payments are limited to $500,000 per person or entity. 

Restoration practices include removal of debris from farmland; replacing or restoring permanent fences; and restoring conservation structures and other installations, field windbreaks and farmstead shelterbelts, according to the release.

A Farm Service Agency-affiliated inspector will provide on-site evaluation based on the type and extent of the damage.

According to the Emergency Conservation Program website, qualifying farms must have derecho-related damage that would lead to the following conservation problems, if unresolved:

  • Further damage to land.
  • Significant reduction of the land’s productive capacity.
  • Damage from a natural disaster unusual for the area.
  • Being too costly to repair without federal assistance in order to return the land to agricultural production.

Producers with applicable damage must apply for assistance prior to beginning reconstructive work and provide dated photographs or video with third-party verification.

Deadlines vary by county:

  • Roberts: July 30
  • Day: Aug. 1
  • Deuel: Aug. 1
  • Codington: Aug. 5

Grant County Farm Service Agency Executive Director Joel Foster said Friday that no deadline is set for his county, but that producers can still apply for help.

For more information, contact the Codington County Farm Service Agency office at 605-886-8202 or visit farmers.gov/recover.

Kerry Kulkarni with The Watertown Public Opinion contributed to this report.

Dominik Dausch is the agriculture and environment reporter for the Argus Leader and editor of Farm Forum. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook @DomDNP and send news tips to ddausch@gannett.com.