Hoeven: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Approves $3.6 Million in Financial Assistance for Farmers and Ranchers

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide $3.6 million to farmers and ranchers in North Dakota to compensate farmers and landowners for flooded land using short-term conservation leases. The program will be available in three states: North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota. The agency will accept applications from March 17 until April 18.

The USDA financial assistance for farmers and ranchers is made available through the Water Bank Program (WBP). The WBP allows producers and landowners to enter into ten-year agreements to voluntarily protect wetlands and flooded agricultural lands in return for annual payments. Landowners interested in the program work through WBP to apply to receive assistance.

As a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to secure funding for WBP in Fiscal Year 2014. WBP is well suited to the needs of many North Dakota farmers, particularly those in the Devils Lake Basin and Stump Lake Basin regions. Hoeven also worked to get the funding approved for Fiscal Year 2012

“The Water Bank Program has proved to be a success in North Dakota, and these additional funds will help continue that success story for North Dakota farmers and ranchers who have been impacted by severe flooding,” Hoeven said. “These resources will provide valuable assistance to help individual farmers and ranchers transform flooded lands into areas that will benefit wildlife in North Dakota. This, in turn, proves an effective flood control mechanism and will help local economies.”

The Water Bank Program will focus on flood reduction this fiscal year. Severe flooding of agricultural land has been a problem in North Dakota and the other states, parts of which lie in the prairie pothole region. Eligible land for this year’s WBP includes flooded agricultural land, flooded hay, pasture or rangeland and flooded private forestland.

 Applications must be submitted by April 18. Applicants should work with their local USDA Service Center to submit applications and can obtain more information through the NRSC Water Bank Program website. North Dakotans can find their local USDA Service Center here.