Senator John Hoeven today announced that the omnibus appropriations bill Congress approved last weekend included $4 million for 2015 for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Water Bank Program (WBP), which compensates farmers and landowners for flooded land using short-term conservation leases. As a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven has worked to get the funding approved annually since 2012.
Severe flooding of agricultural land has been a problem in North Dakota and other states, parts of which lie in the prairie pothole region. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which administers the program, provides funding to help preserve and enhance wetlands for habitat, improve water quality and compensate producers for flooded land. It allows producers and landowners to enter into ten-year agreements to voluntarily protect wetlands and flooded agricultural lands in return for annual payments. Landowners interested in the program work through WBP to apply to receive assistance.
“The Water Bank Program has proven to be well suited to the needs of many North Dakota farmers, particularly those in the Devils Lake Basin and Stump Lake Basin regions who have experienced regular flooding,” Hoeven said. “The funding will provide valuable assistance to help individual farmers and ranchers to make use of flooded lands until they can be used for production again. This, in turn, serves as effective flood control and helps to sustain local economies.”
Applicants should work with their local USDA Service Center to submit applications and can obtain more information through the NRSC Water Bank Program website.