The following programs are available through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
1The Illinois River Watershed Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program – The program seeks to enroll 15,000 acres of eligible marginal pastureland and cropland in 14 to 15 year contracts within the Illinois River watershed. The project will establish or restore riparian forest buffers and wildlife habitat buffers by planting native grasses, forbs, trees and shrubs. This CREP project area includes parts of Benton and Washington Counties.
2Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program that helps agricultural producers use environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. CRP participants plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve the quality of water and air, control soil erosion and enhance wildlife habitat. In return, FSA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance.
3Farm Storage Facility Loan Program (FSFL) provides low-interest financing for producers to build or upgrade farm storage and handling facilities. The FSA is authorized to implement the program through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). The following commodities are eligible for farm storage facility loans: corn, grain sorghum, rice; soybeans, oats, peanuts, wheat, barley or minor oilseeds harvested as whole grain; corn, grain sorghum, wheat, oats or barley harvested as other-than-whole grain; pulse crops – lentils, chickpeas and dry peas; hay; renewable biomass; fruits (includes nuts) and vegetables – cold storage facilities.
4Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) to provide compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses for covered livestock on land that is native or improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or is planted specifically for grazing. The grazing losses must be due to a qualifying drought condition during the normal grazing period for the county. LFP also provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses on rangeland managed by a federal agency if the eligible livestock producer is prohibited by the federal agency from grazing the normal permitted livestock on the managed rangeland due to a qualifying fire.
5The “Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008” authorized the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) to provide benefits to livestock producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather that occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2008, and before Oct. 1, 2011, including losses because of hurricanes, floods, blizzards, disease, wildfires, extreme heat and extreme cold.
6USDA’s Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to a natural disaster.
For more information on any of these programs contact the Arkansas State FSA office at 501-301-3052 or the Oklahoma State FSA office at 405-742-1130. Information provided by Ted Collins, county executive director, Benton and Washington County.


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