Torrential rains were still falling yesterday as New York State Ag Commissioner Darrel Aubertine outlined plans to help restore farms and farmland ravaged by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. He announced that Soil and Water Conservation Districts will begin assessing damage in agricultural disaster areas and begin identifying projects to restore farms and farmland.
The Governor's $15 million Agricultural and Community Recovery Fund includes a $5-million conservation component. It's designated to provide funding for farmers to restore farmland damaged by Hurricane Irene and prevent further damage.
ACRF includes three other components. They include:
Farm Operations Match Program: Match farmers' dollars for the purchase of feed for animals and produce from other New York producers to allow the farms operations to continue;
On Farm Capital Needs Program: Grants and deferred and low/interest loans to meet the immediate and long-term needs of farmers devastated by Hurricane Irene;
Main Street Business Assistance Program: A combination of grants and low interest loans to help Main Street Businesses get back in operation in eligible counties.
"The conservation component released today will help farmers who have had their land devastated by Hurricane Irene recover," said Aubertine. Applications for funding will be accepted from County Soil and Water Conservation Districts within the eligible counties.
The districts will determine land eligibility based on site inspections of damage. For land to be eligible, the hurricane must have created a new conservation problem that, if left untreated, would: degrade the state's natural resources; impact public drinking water supplies, present ongoing pollution risks to surface and groundwater; pose threats to production facilities, impair farm safety; affect the land's productive capacity; or present challenges to farm production that are too costly to implement without state assistance.
A list of county offices can be found here: http://www.nys-soilandwater.org/contacts/county_offices.html.
Eligible emergency conservation practices include, but are not limited to: debris removal; restoring fences and conservation structures; crop removal; land shaping and grading; and installation of vegetative practice including cover crops.
Eligible costs include architectural and/or engineering services; consultant services; construction and other direct expenses related to implementation.
Project selection will be based on identified need, degree of loss and in consideration of the available funding for eligible counties. Project sponsors within those counties may submit applications weekly. Applications will be taken until all available funds are awarded.