WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture will put an additional $11.8 million toward helping crop and livestock producers in 22 states implement conservation practices designed to blunt the impact of drought conditions, the agency announced Sept. 19.

"As this drought continues to impact American farming and ranching families, USDA will be there to help our agriculture sector recover," said Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture. "This additional assistance builds on a number of steps USDA and other federal agencies have taken over the past few months to provide resources and flexibility in our existing programs to help producers endure these hardships.

“But Congress also needs to act, and the urgency to pass a comprehensive, multi-year food, farm and jobs bill is greater than ever," he added.

The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides drought assistance through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), according to USDA. The additional funding will allow NRCS to tackle the backlog in applications from the previous drought assistance signup, and accept new applications. Producers can also apply for financial assistance to re-install conservation practices that failed due to drought, USDA said.