Feds offer $20 million to counter California farm drought

Feb. 4, 2014 at 2:12 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The Obama administration Tuesday pledged $20 million to help California farmers cope with what looks like a particularly dry year ahead.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the funds would be available for new water-conservation efforts that will help California agriculture limp through the latest and possibly worst year in an ongoing drought.

"We are doing everything within our power to support those farmers and ranchers affected by this intense drought." Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said. "These funds will help get a suite of scientifically proven conservation techniques on the ground and helping producers."

California's unusually dry winter thus far recently led the state to cancel water deliveries from the State Water Project.

The money is available statewide for projects such as upgrading irrigation systems and existing groundwater supplies as well as protecting rangeland and planting cover crops. Applications for assistance must be turned in by March 3, the department said in a written statement.

The funds will be divided into two pools: cropland and grazing lands. Cropland where water allocations have been reduced to 85 percent or lower will get the highest priority.

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