Farmers or ranchers who haven’t cleaned up after recent flooding shouldn’t do so. It could cost then money, experts say.

Jefferson County has been approved for Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) assistance due to the flooding in February and March. The sign up period began May 1 and ends May 31. The cost share payments up to 75 percent to implement approved restoration practices are available. No rancher or producer may receive more than $200,000.

“Limited resource producers are eligible for up to a 90 percent cost share,” Henry English, director of the Small Farm Program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, said. “In Jefferson County, limited resource farmers are those with gross sales less than $174,600 and an adjusted gross income of $24,600,” English said.

To qualify for the cost share payment, applications must be signed and onsite inspections conducted by a U.S. Department of Agriculture official before any clean-up activity is started, unless the farmer has been granted a waiver, English said.

For land to be eligible, the natural disaster must have created new conservation problems that, if untreated, would affect the productivity of the farmland, impair or endanger the land, and/or would be so costly to rehabilitate that federal assistance is or will be needed to return the land to productive agricultural use.

Examples of eligible measures funded include removing debris from farmland; grading, shaping or releveling damaged land; restoring permanent fences; or restoring conservation structures.

Producers and ranchers should apply now as Jefferson County has not yet received an ECP dollar allocation for this sign up.

Contact Rod Woods at the Jefferson County Conservation District, 870-534-3200, Ext. 2, to sign up or for more information.

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.

— Carol Sanders, is a writer/editor with the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.