Numerous programs to help local residents deal with flooding last spring have a variety of deadlines for local residents, business owners and agricultural producers to watch, with one hitting today.
Today is the last day for ag producers to apply for the Emergency Conservation Program to seek aid for damage due to the flooding.
Under that program, the U. S. Department of Agriculture will share the cost paid by producers, up to a 75 percent level, for things such as debris removal, land releveling, restoration of conservation structures or replacement of fencing destroyed by the floodwaters.
Applications can be put on file at the Hill County FSA Office; to make an appointment, people can call 265-6792.
The deadline to file for assistance for damage to private residences and businesses also is nearing, with people required to call the Federal Emergency Management Agency or register online by Sept. 26.
FEMA and the Small Business Administration already have approved millions in flood-related expenses, including for housing and other needs; for housing expenses, including temporary rental assistance, home repair costs and assistance toward replacing destroyed homes; to cover essential disaster-related expenses, such as medical costs and damaged personal property; and in low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters and business owners.
The first step in applying for any disaster aid, grants or loans, is to register with FEMA by calling (800) 621 FEMA (3362), (800) 462-7585 TTY for people with speeech or hearing problems, online at www.disasterassistance.gov, or by a mobile device at m. fema.gov.
And the USDA is opening applications for another set of ag-related assistance.
Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service will be offering both technical and financial assistance for a number of conservation practices that will allow the floodplain to recover from the damages caused by severe flooding. Montana farmers and ranchers have until Nov. 1 to sign-up with NRCS for the current EQIP program.
Ag producers also can sign up suitable areas into the Conservation Reserve Program continuous sign-up program, in which they receive rental and cost-share payments in exchange for establishing and maintaining vegetation to conserve areas such as field margins and riparian buffers. Producers can sign up for that program at any time with their county FSA office.
Landowners also may be able to enroll wetland acres into the Wetlands Reserve Program. In that program, NRCS is looking for sites on agricultural land where former wetlands have been drained, altered or manipulated. Once under an easement or a contract, the land can no longer be cropped, but haying and grazing may be permissible through a wetland management plan to maintain riparian functions. The first cutoff date for producers to sign-up for WRP at NRCS is Nov. 11, 2011, and the second cutoff date will be June 1, 2012.