Hill County agricultural producers who have to repair damage caused by flooding can sign up for a U. S. Department of Agriculture program starting Monday.
Hill County Farm Service Agency Executive Director Mike Zook said the signup for the Emergency Conservation Program has been approved. It will run through Sept. 16.
Hill, Blaine and Chouteau counties and the Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy’s Indian reservations have been included in a presidential disaster declaration for the state due to flooding. Assistance for public infrastructure was included in that declaration, and Gov. Brian Schweitzer has made a request for individual assistance for private property and business owners who sustained damage from the flooding.
Montana’s federal lawmakers have been pressing agencies, including USDA, to make sure assistance is available.
Zook said the Hill County FSA County Committee made the request for the ECP signup.
In the program, the federal government shares the cost with the ag producers who need to complete debris removal, reshape and re-level land, re-install fences and put other conservation structures such as those used for irrigation back into place.
No funding is available at the moment for ECP disaster assistance in the county, but anyone planning to work to repair flood damage should come in to the county FSA office to sign up.
"They should sign-up prior to beginning the action, just so we can explain the program to them, and we make sure they'll remain eligible if funding becomes available," Zook said.
Zook said improvements to the computer programs used in his office should help with the process, as well.
“The software for the program has been through a major revamping, ” he said. “Hopefully, it will help us in assisting the public in a faster, more efficient way. ”
For more information, people can contact the Hill County FSA office at 265-6792, ext. 2.