FRESNO, Calif. – The US Department of Agriculture will provide disaster assistance to agriculture stakeholders impacted by persistent drought conditions. The announcement came during a visit to California by President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Under the plan, livestock producers will be able to sign up for the livestock disaster programs for losses experienced in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Producers in California alone could potentially receive up to $100 million for 2014 losses and up to $50 million for previous years, USDA noted. USDA has declared 54 counties in the state as primary natural disaster areas due to

Another $15 million will be used toward conservation assistance for the most drought-stricken areas. This includes $5 million in additional assistance to California and $10 million for areas in Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico. Farmers and ranchers can use the money to implement conservation practices that conserve water, reduce wind erosion and improve livestock access to water.

Additionally, $60 million will go to food banks in California; 600 summer meal sites will be established in drought stricken areas and $3 million in Emergency Water Assistance Grants will be made available to communities struggling with water shortages.

Vilsack said the additional assistance and other aid being made available across government agencies should provide some relief.

"Thanks to the newly-signed Farm Bill, we are now able to offer long-awaited livestock disaster assistance, which will provide needed stability for California livestock producers impacted by drought," Vilsack said.