(NAFB)--USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse was in Rapid City, South Dakota Tuesday to announce that conservation assistance is available for those affected by the blizzard that swept through the western part of the state earlier this month. Scuse said the blizzard impacted lives and livelihoods across the region and USDA is committed to doing all it can to help ranchers during this difficult time. He noted that the department’s means to help are limited because a new farm bill has not been passed by Congress. Scuse said this disaster is a reminder of the unpredictable nature of agriculture and the need for a strong farm safety net that would be provided by a new Food, Farm and Jobs bill.
To help South Dakota producers address the impacts of the storm - USDA is offering a special signup through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The EQIP signup will run through November 15th. The assistance will help producers dispose of livestock carcasses, replace destroyed fencing and rebuild shelterbelts and other conservation practices damaged by the storm. USDA will begin providing assistance to producers as soon as this week. Scuse also encouraged producers to submit forms to the Farm Service Agency to document their losses with the hope that Congress will quickly pass a farm bill to reauthorize the livestock disaster assistance programs that have expired.