Callaway farmers may receive aid to provide water to livestock

The water level at a pond on the Steve Smart farm off Route H near Fulton is much lower than normal because of the current drought.

The water level at a pond on the Steve Smart farm off Route H near Fulton is much lower than normal because of the current drought. Photo by Don Norfleet.

Callaway County farmers are now eligible to apply for federal cost-sharing benefits to provide water to livestock.

Some streams and ponds are drying up in Callaway County, according to Darrell Campbell, Callaway County director of the Farm Service Agency.

Campbell said Friday all Callaway County farmers now qualify to apply for approved cost-sharing benefits because the county now has extreme drought conditions, or D3 on the Drought Monitor map prepared by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Drought Monitor evaluates conditions in each county in the United States.

Counties not designated as D3 Extreme Drought may also qualify for cost sharing under the USDA’s Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) if they have a 40 percent shortage of rainfall in comparison to normal rainfall for the year.

The ECP plan allows qualifying farmers to apply for cost-sharing aid to obtain emergency water for livestock.

Campbell said it is important for farmers wanting federal cost-sharing aid to talk to the local Farm Service Agency office before committing to spending any money on a water project.

“We need to approve any plans first before a farmer takes any action, such as digging wells or running water lines,” Campbell said.

Campbell said it also is unknown at this time if funding will be available immediately. But producers who are interested can begin making their cost-share requests and they will be notified as funds become available.

The federal Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) will pay for up to 75 percent of the cost of approved temporary practices and up to 50 percent for approved permanent practices to secure emergency water for livestock.

Campbell said to qualify for the cost-sharing program, a farmer must document spending at least $2,500 for an approved project to get water to livestock.

He said this might include drilling a well or extensive piping from an existing well or from a water district line. “The federal aid will not provide cost sharing benefits to install a meter from a water district line. The qualifying expense in this case would be the cost of installing water pipes from the water district meter to the livestock,” Campbell said.

He added that the federal government also won’t share the cost of cleaning or excavating a pond.

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