The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas announced on Feb. 16 it is offering financial assistance to farmers and ranchers along the southern border currently impacted by damage to fields and farming infrastructure, including fencing and water structures.
Two publications, the Washington Examiner at https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/immigration/biden-to-pay-texas-ranchers-and-farmers-for-property-damage-by-illegal-migrants and American Faith at https://americanfaith.com/biden-to-pay-texas-ranchers-and-farmers-for-property-damage-by-illegal-migrants/, reported on Feb. 19 the reimbursement was being made to “farmers and ranchers across 33 Texas counties for damages sustained in the surge of illegal immigration and drug smuggling at the U.S.-Mexico border.”
A press release from the NRCS quoted Kristy Oates, NRCS state conservationist in Texas, who said, “We understand that the field and farming infrastructure damages along the border are costly and have a negative impact on our natural resources that our farmers and ranchers work hard to conserve. Our field offices are ready to assist eligible producers with technical and financial assistance.”
Eligible counties in Texas include Brewster, Brooks, Cameron, Crockett, Culberson, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, El Paso, Frio, Hidalgo, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kinney, Kleberg, La Salle, Live Oak, Maverick, McMullen, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Starr, Sutton, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Willacy, Zapata, and Zavala.
The federal release said that funding is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits.
“NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs year-round, however, producers and landowners should apply by July 5, 2022, to be considered for this year’s funding. Applications for this enrollment opportunity will be selected for funding by August 5, 2022. NRCS is allowing early start waivers and a shorter enrollment period.
Eligible producers can use the funds to implement eligible practices including fencing, watering facility, range planting, livestock pipeline, and more. To apply for EQIP assistance, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center.
“Farmers and ranchers along the southern border have seen damage to fields and farming infrastructure, including fencing and livestock and irrigation watering infrastructure. These damages are costly for producers and may also have a negative impact on resource concerns that farmers and ranchers are working to protect and enhance,” the release said.
No specific amount was given, but the release continued, “The USDA has set aside funds for financial and technical assistance through the EQIP Border Restoration Initiative to help producers complete infrastructure repairs along Texas’ southern border. This funding is in addition to existing state annual allocations.
These funds are made available through a targeted initiative in specific border regions in Texas. NRCS offers higher payment rates and advance payments to historically underserved (HU) producers who implement conservation practices through EQIP. HU producers include Beginning Farmers, Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, Limited Resource Farmers, and Veterans. USDA provides technical assistance at no cost to agricultural and forestry producers from USDA Service Centers serving every county in Texas. Our Service Centers are currently open for business, including those that restrict in-person visits or require appointments.
Visit farmers.gov/service- locator to find the contact information for your local FSA or NRCS office. Check the status of your local USDA Service Center, then make an appointment to determine next steps for your conservation goals. Visit NRCS programs web page to learn more about USDA’s financial and technical conservation assistance.
Applications are accepted on a continuous basis; however, to be considered for current funding, apply February 16, 2022, through July 5, 2022. To apply, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center. Environmental Quality Incentives Program Southern Border Initiative in Texas Farmers, ranchers, and landowners who own or lease agricultural land may be eligible.
The Washington Examiner wrote, “Every county along the 1,250 miles that Texas spans the international border, as well as those as far as 100 miles away from the border, will be eligible to have 26 types of damages covered. The reimbursements were requested by state and national organizations starting last spring as illegal immigration soared through 2021 to the highest level ever seen.
Rep. Tony Gonzalez, a Republican state legislator, was quoted as saying, “I hear daily from property owners who have suffered damages due to the border crisis. These dollars will have real impact to our ranchers and farmers, who have footed the cost of this crisis. … Providing this relief has been a priority for me, and I appreciate my colleagues for joining me in this effort to put our farmers first.”
Download an informational PDF about the program below.