Drought Relief for Local Farmers & Ranchers - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Drought Relief for Local Farmers & Ranchers

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Dry weather continues to plague the area and the severe conditions have been causing problems for local farmers and ranchers, but some help is on the way. "This has been an ongoing drought situation. Last year we were just below normal. But the previous two years have been very dry - this year is exceptionally dry," said William Elder of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The agriculture industry in Nevada is the third biggest industry in the state and now some funding could be on the way to help local farmers deal with these dry conditions. The Natural Resources Conservation Service has requested help from the federal government for local ranchers impacted by the drought. 

Financial assistance is now being made available to Nevada farmers and ranchers affected by the drought. The Natural Resources Conservation Service announced farmers can apply for grant money to get help but the deadline is coming up soon.

Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the department of agriculture is helping address emergency drought issues associated with livestock production and recovery efforts to protect farming areas facing extreme drought. "There are a number of people competing for these funds," said Elder.

According to the U.S. Drought monitor 34% of Nevada is in an extreme drought. Part of northern Nevada is also under an exceptional drought. The rest of the state is either under moderate to severe weather drought condition.

There are over 3,000 farms in Nevada, everything from alfalfa to produce and livestock. Steve Slusser has been farming in Nevada for over a decade. "I grow vegetables, I'm a certified organic producer, said Steve Slusser who owns Slusser farms. "I grow vegetables, I grow tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, watermelons, green beans," said Slusser.

He says having a third year of drought brings more challenges to farmers. "This year I'm going to cut back to 1/5 to what I normally plant," said Slusser.

Cutting back on production and paying for more water gets costly for some farmers. In the past few years the Natural Resources Conservation Service has helped over 50 farms statewide with requests for assistance. Farmers can apply for numerous drought recovery programs. "There's a variety of practices available. Everything from grazing management to water development to irrigation efficiency," Slusser.

"Offering this kind of relief to farmers and ranchers in Nevada is important because it does a number of things. First off it helps them stay in business and by keeping them in business that also helps the rural economy and keeps people on the ground producing fiber for our nation," said Slusser.

NRCS is encouraging farmers and ranchers to apply for drought relief. Applications are being taken at local USDA service centers until April 18th. They will know in a few weeks how much grant money they will get based on the need here locally.

For more information on drought relief funding, click here: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/national/home/

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