LITTLE ROCK — More than $3.7 million in federal funds is available to help Arkansas farmers and ranchers cope with the drought, the Obama administration announced Wednesday.

The money is available through programs managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The agency received $1,799,000 for assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and $2 million for assistance through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program.

Applications will be taken at county USDA service centers through Aug. 14.

"With this funding, we hope to provide some immediate relief and a catalyst for a quicker recovery," Mike Sullivan, NRCS state conservationist in Arkansas, said in a release.

Through EQIP, farmers can apply for financial assistance to initiate practices designed to provide immediate drought relief. Practices include watering systems, planting of annual forages and permanent reseeding, and prescribed grazing, officials said.

Several practices are also available to help with recovery from the drought, including permanent reseeding, buffers, tree and shrub planting, and various water systems such as pipelines and ponds.

Drought relief and recovery practices for which WHIP funding can be used include planting of annual forages and permanent reseeding — native grasses, forbs and legumes — planting of buffers, trees and shrubs and various water systems. Landowners with a current EQIP contract can also request a contract modification to reschedule planned conservation practices such as prescribed grazing, livestock watering facilities, water conservation and other conservation activities on pasture and forest land until drought conditions improve.

Landowners statewide can apply for financial assistance, although priority is given to those who have been in the exceptional drought area, defined by the National Drought Mitigation Center, the longest.


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