Tester Secures Emergency Funding to Help Montana Producers Devastated by Wildfires

 U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture granted his request for additional assistance for Montana producers ravaged by recent wildfires. 

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is releasing up to 3 million for a special two-week signup period for Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funds that help Montana farmers and ranchers.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service will accept applications starting today, August 1, through August 15, 2017.  The additional EQIP funds can assist with livestock grazing deferment, damaged fence and post removal, livestock fencing, water facility development, critical area plantings, and cover crops.

“Family farms and ranches are the backbone of this country and in their time of need it is important for USDA and the federal government to step up,”Tester said.  “These emergency funds will help Montana producers get back on their feet after this devastating drought and fire season.”

Last week, Tester penned a letter to Secretary Perdue asking the Department to tap into disaster assistance initiatives, which Tester secured in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Montana farmers and ranchers interested in signing up for EQIP should contact their local Natural Resources Conservation Service office for additional information.

This week, Tester launched an online portal where Montanans who are impacted by fire and drought can contact his office and receive help.

Tester helped secure additional staffing at USDA offices to help Montana farmers and ranchers facing extreme drought. 

Tester has urged Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon to prioritize assisting Montana small businesses that apply for Disaster Loan Assistance because of business downturns due to devastating drought and wildfires. 

Tester called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Congress to help first responders across Montana who are fighting wildfires throughout the state.  Last week, Tester secured critical life-saving resources to help fight the Lodgepole Complex Fire in eastern Montana.