FSA pushes for farm aid from Irene

Published 10:45 am Friday, September 23, 2011

WINTON – With damage estimates in the tens of millions, Hurricane Irene’s impact was felt throughout Hertford County.

Bill Earley, Director of FSA in Hertford County, said farms suffering severe damage may be eligible for assistance under the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) administered by the Hertford Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Office. That eligibility is based upon if the damage will be so costly to rehabilitate that Federal assistance is or will be needed to return the land to productive agricultural use; is unusual and is not the type that would recur frequently in the same area; affect the productive capacity of the farmland; and/or will impair or endanger the land.

“A producer qualifying for ECP assistance may receive cost-share levels not to exceed 75 percent of the eligible cost of restoration measures,” Earley said.  “To be eligible for consideration for cost-share assistance, the minimum qualifying cost of restoration is set at $1,000 per participant, and is based on the total eligible cost of all practices for the same disaster.”

Earley said the following types of measures may be eligible:

Removing debris from farmland;

Grading, shaping, or re-leveling severely damaged farmland;

Restoring permanent fences; and

Restoring conservation structures and other similar installations.

Producers who have suffered a loss from a natural disaster may contact the local FSA County Office and request assistance beginning Sept. 22. Their window of opportunity ends Oct. 21.

Earley stressed that to be eligible for assistance, practices must not be started until all of the following are met:

An application for cost-share assistance has been filed;

The local FSA County Committee (COC) or its representative has conducted an onsite inspection of the damaged area; and

The agency responsible for technical assistance, such as the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), has made a needs determination, which may include cubic yards of earthmoving, etc., required for rehabilitation.

For more information, contact the Hertford County FSA office at 358-7842.