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October 25, 2004   Email to Friend 

NEARLY $500 MILLION IN DISASTER FUNDS TO HELP RESTORE FARMLAND AND FORESTS
Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
October 25, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced the availability of nearly $500 million in disaster assistance to restore farmland and forests. Alabama will receive $2.8 million for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), $3.6 million for the Emergency Watershed Program (EWP), and $19.5 million for Forest Rehabilitation.

The funds are part of the $13 billion hurricane relief package signed by President Bush on Oct. 13.

"President Bush has directed federal agencies to quickly administer aid to those who have suffered losses due to severe weather conditions," Veneman said during remarks to the 10th Annual Women in Agriculture conference being held here. "Today's announcement marks the first program rollout under disaster legislation that provides more than $3 billion in relief to farmers, ranchers, farm workers, foresters and agriculture related businesses."

The funds announced today include $353 million in conservation restoration funding to farmers, ranchers and communities nationwide, $113 million to eight southeastern states and Puerto Rico to restore forests damaged by this season's four hurricanes, and $5 million in assistance to help repair farm worker housing and provide assistance to farm workers in the affected areas.

This assistance is in addition to the announcement in September of more than $500 million in special disaster relief for producers of citrus, fruits and vegetables, and nursery crops. Sign up for the citrus program began Oct. 5 and sign up for the nursery and fruits and vegetable assistance began Oct 20. Producers should begin receiving the assistance after the regulations are published in the Federal Register, which is expected next week.

Emergency Conservation Program - $103 Million

The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) helps farmers and ranchers rehabilitate farmland damaged by severe weather. The program provides financial and technical assistance to help producers remove debris from farmland, restore fences and conservation structures, provide water for livestock in drought situations and grade and shape farmland damaged by a natural disaster.

The program is administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) state and county committees. Locally-elected county committees are authorized to implement ECP for all disasters except drought, which is authorized at the national office of FSA. More information can be found at : http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov and

Emergency Watershed Program - $250 Million

The Emergency Watershed Program (EWP) provides funding for locally-sponsored watershed protection projects resulting from the recent hurricanes and other natural disasters such as tornadoes, fires, drought and floods. Through EWP, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to protect life and property threatened by excessive erosion and flooding caused by the sudden impairment of a watershed from a natural disaster. NRCS works in partnership with local, state and federal agencies to ensure public safety and to address restoration efforts on private lands.

These rehabilitation projects provide sound erosion control measures that are economically and environmentally defensible. EWP funds are used to remove debris, restore eroded streambanks, re-seed burned areas, and take related steps to mitigate threats to people and properly from impaired watersheds. More information can be found at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/EWP.

Farm Worker Grants - $5 million

USDA Rural Development will publish a notice in the Federal Register soon outlining specific guidelines for submitting applications for the $5 million in grant funds. For areas affected by a named tropical storm or hurricane during 2003 and 2004, $5 million in competitive grant funds will be available to local and state governments and nonprofit organizations. Two million dollars will be available for repair or rehabilitation of off-farm labor housing and the remaining $3 million will be used for general assistance for low-income migrant and seasonal farm workers and their families. Additional information on the special funding assistance is available at: www.rurdev.usda.gov.

Forest Rehabilitation - $113 Million

Forests this year in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Puerto Rico all sustained damage from either hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan or Jeanne. The funding will be used by the Forest Service and States for on- the-ground work to restore thousands of acres of trees, hundreds of miles of trails and roads, dozens of recreation and administrative sites, bridges and other infrastructure as well as endangered species habitat. The funds will also be used to reduce the risk of potential insect, disease and invasive weed infestations. In addition, because the southeast now faces an increased risk of wildland fire due to downed trees and other hazardous fuels, the money will be used for wildland fire management.

North Carolina will receive of total of more than $47 million for restoring damaged roads, trails and facilities in the National Forest System and for stabilizing soils in areas affected by landslides and debris flows as well as stream channels that have experienced excessive amounts of erosion and/or deposition.

Florida will receive a total of more than $40 million for its national, state and private forest resources. The money will be used for state and volunteer fire resources, debris removal and repair to roads, trails, particularly the Florida National Scenic Trail, and recreational facilities in Florida's national forests.

Alabama will receive more than $19 million for recovery of forest resources, including money to fund additional state and volunteer fire resources. The remaining more than $5 million will go to Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Puerto Rico for work on national forests.

Because the Southeast now faces an increased risk of wildland fire due to increased amount of downed trees and other hazardous fuels, the money will also go to support wildland fire management efforts and to help states clean up debris that could otherwise fuel future wildland fires.

Recovery work is expected to take up to 18 months.

Veneman praised the unprecedented support given by the USDA Forest Service to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and states in the federal hurricane response effort in addition to these disaster funds.

"The USDA Forest Service are experts in helping manage disasters. They committed more than 1,200 personnel from its wildland fire community to manage highly complex receiving and distribution centers, base camps, logistics staging areas in hurricane-stricken states," said Veneman. "This effort represents the broadest application of the Incident Command System to a non-fire natural disaster."

The Forest Service uses the incident management structure to manage a human-caused or natural occurrence that requires emergency service action to prevent or reduce the loss of life or damage to property or natural resources. Costs per date for the wildland fire community hurricane response effort are estimated at $25 million.

More information can be found at www.fs.fed.us.

Here is a list outlining state allocations: attached.

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP)

* State -- Funding
* Alabama -- $2,756,000
* Arizona -- 401,100
* Arkansas -- 102,000
* California -- 79,000
* Colorado -- 670,600
* Connecticut -- 23,800
* Florida -- 61,342,000
* Georgia -- 4,885,200
* Hawaii -- 175,100
* Idaho -- 363,200
* Illinois -- 86,800
* Indiana -- 222,600
* Iowa -- 2,469,500
* Kansas -- 43,500
* Kentucky -- 165,600
* Maine -- 59,000
* Maryland -- 34,000
* Massachusetts -- 10,000
* Michigan -- 28,600
* Minnesota -- 10,500
* Mississippi -- 140,500
* Missouri -- 955,400
* Montana -- 2,028,400
* Nebraska -- 1,506,100
* Nevada -- 1,293,800
* New Mexico -- 290,200
* New York -- 185,500
* North Carolina -- 6,302,600
* North Dakota -- 22,500
* Ohio -- 315,000
* Oklahoma -- 431,100
* Oregon -- 165,100
* Pennsylvania -- 1,398,200
* South Carolina -- 1,776,200
* South Dakota -- 6,065,800
* Tennessee -- 80,000
* Texas -- 657,900
* Utah -- 2,345,100
* Vermont -- 78,800
* Virginia -- 761,900
* Washington -- 305,300
* West Virginia -- 1,128,300
* Wyoming -- 847,000
* TOTAL -- $103,008,800

Emergency Watershed Program (EWP)

* State -- Funding
* Alabama -- $3,586,040
* Arizona -- 46,000
* Arkansas -- 297,000
* Colorado -- 250,000
* Delaware -- 660,172
* Florida -- 120,301,000
* Georgia -- 3,350,600
* Illinois -- 114,000
* Indiana -- 2,022,700
* Kansas -- 410,800
* Massachusetts -- 555,000
* Maryland -- 1,581,600
* Maine -- 408,000
* Michigan -- 600,000
* Minnesota -- 3,426,200
* Missouri -- 294,500
* Mississippi -- 6,676,300
* North Carolina -- 65,683,246
* New York -- 512,000
* Ohio -- 48,000
* Oklahoma -- 4,371,222
* Oregon -- 150,000
* Pennsylvania -- 2,808,500
* Pacific Basin -- 84,000
* Puerto Rico -- 5,691,820
* South Carolina -- 2,637,700
* Tennessee -- 11,716,100
* Texas -- 2,710,700
* Utah -- 3,602,600
* Virginia -- 2,110,800
* Vermont -- 126,000
* Wisconsin -- 12,900
* West Virginia -- 2,213,300
* Reserve* -- 941,200
* TOTAL -- $250,000,000

Forest Rehabilitation

* State -- Funding
* Alabama -- $19,537,000
* Florida -- 40,637,000
* Georgia -- 3,174,000
* Mississippi -- 36,000
* North Carolina -- 47,210,000
* Puerto Rico -- 436,000
* South Carolina -- 550,000
* Tennessee -- 1,391,000
* Virginia -- 125,000
* TOTAL -- $113,096,000

*Reserve: These funds are for contract modification and potential overruns


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