Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced an important package of disaster assistance to help farmers, land owners, communities and others recover and rebuild after a year in which a wave of natural disasters swept across all regions of the United States.

The funding, totaling $308 million, provides financial and technical assistance to help rebuild and repair land damaged on account of flooding, drought, tornadoes and other natural disasters in 33 states and Puerto Rico. Funding is provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) as well as the Farm Service Agency's Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP).

"Landowners, individuals and communities have endured incredible hardships because of the intensity and volume of natural disasters that have impacted their livelihoods," said Vilsack. "America's farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation's economy, producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow. This funding will help to rebuild communities, while states can use the funds to carry out emergency recovery measures. At the same time, this assistance keeps farmers on the farm, ranchers on the ranch, and landowners on their land, helping to keep American agriculture profitable."

The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) will contribute $215.7 million to provide financial and technical assistance to address public safety and restoration efforts on private, public and tribal lands.

When funding is allocated to a project, NRCS contracts the heavy construction work to local contractors, spurring creation of jobs. Typical projects funded under EWP include removing debris from waterways, protecting eroded stream banks, reseeding damaged areas, and in some cases, purchasing floodplain easements on eligible land. A list of states and their fiscal year 2012 EWP Program allocations can be viewed at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/landscape/ewpp.

The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) program will contribute $80 million to producers to help remove debris from farmland, restore livestock fences and conservation structures, provide water for livestock during periods of severe drought, and grade and shape farmland damaged by a natural disaster.