Assistance available to help pasture land recover

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
May 9, 2001
Area farmers and ranchers whose pastures were damaged in last year's drought could get some relief from the federal government but they must apply by Friday.
Farmers and ranchers may sign up to participate in the Pasture Recovery Program offered through the Lauderdale County Farm Service Agency, part of the USDA Service Center in Meridian.
Joanne Carpenter, program technician and acting county executive director for the Lauderdale County Farm Service Agency, said the program is also offered to people in Clarke, Newton and Kemper through their counties' FSA agencies.
She had no information on the drought's financial impact, but said areas in the Southeast seemed hardest hit.
Carpenter said established pasture is eligible if it is land where livestock is normally grazed and was so damaged last year that seeding is required to re-establish the forage crop. No hayland or rangeland assistance is available, she said.
Pastures benefiting from the program must be maintained through Dec. 31, 2004, and mechanical harvesting of hay is prohibited during this time.
Payment rates are designed to cover more than half the costs of seed, fertilizer and planting. There are two payment rates $82 per acre for re-seeding when the soil is to be completely broken and turned and $72 per acre for no-till soil or land where the surface of the soil is to be lightly broken. Lime costs are not included, and people who re-seeded before applying are not eligible, she said.
The payments may have to be pro-rated depending on the number of people joining the program. Carpenter said $40 million is available nationwide, and the maximum amount a person can be paid is $2500.
People can also apply for a hay crop disaster program, which benefits those who have a low yield due to drought. Farmers of all food crops and ornamental shrub crops like Christmas trees can also qualify, but the program does not benefit timber producers. Carpenter said the deadline for this program has not been set and people can sign up for more than one program.
She said 55-60 people are involved in disaster programs offered through the agency. For more information call the Lauderdale County FSA at 483-4100, ext. 2.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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