Drought-stressed farmers and ranchers in California can apply for $20 million in assistance announced this morning by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The money will go to projects such as improving irrigation efficiency, finding new drinking water sources for rangeland cattle, and protecting idled farmland from soil erosion.
It is a tiny fraction of the total aid that is likely to be available if the drought does not ease.
“We in California are facing a disaster that has a potential to devastate our economy and force many of my constituents out of work,” said Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, whose district takes in Merced County. He took part in a telephone news conference with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Karen Ross, food and agriculture secretary for California.
The severe drought already has left the rangelands dry and led to projections of irrigation cutbacks of varying severity in spring and summer. Parts of the western and southern San Joaquin Valley are especially hard-hit.
More information on the aid is at the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov.
For updates on this story, visit www.modbee.com or read Wednesday’s Modesto Bee.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2385.