Funds available for ag infrastructure repairs along southern border

By Julie Tomascik 

Financial assistance is available to Texas farmers and ranchers along the U.S-Mexico border who are currently impacted by damage to fields and farming infrastructure, including fencing and water structures.

The funds are made available through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits.

“Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) thanks USDA for releasing the EQIP Border Restoration Initiative to assist farmers and ranchers suffering devastating losses due to illegal immigration,” TFB President Russell Boening said. “We also appreciate Congressional leaders, especially Congressmen August Pfluger, Henry Cuellar, Tony Gonzales, Vicente Gonzalez and Michael Cloud, who have all worked on similar legislative solutions.”

Eligible counties in Texas include: Brewster, Brooks, Cameron, Crockett, Culberson, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, El Paso, Frio, Hidalgo, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kinney, Kleberg, La Salle, Live Oak, Maverick, McMullen, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Starr, Sutton, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Willacy, Zapata and Zavala.

Farmers and ranchers can use the funds to repair eligible practices such as fencing, watering facility, range planting, livestock pipeline and more.

“We understand that the field and farming infrastructure damages along the border are costly and have a negative impact on our natural resources that our farmers and ranchers work hard to conserve,” Kristy Oates, NRCS state conservationist in Texas, said. “Our field offices are ready to assist eligible producers with technical and financial assistance.”

NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs year-round, but farmers, ranchers and landowners should apply by July 5 to be considered for this year’s funding.

Applications for this enrollment opportunity will be selected for funding by Aug. 5.

NRCS is allowing early start waivers and a shorter enrollment period.

To apply for EQIP assistance, farmers and ranchers should contact their local USDA Service Center.

But TFB noted Texas families living along the southern border will continue to suffer losses and damages caused by immigrants attempting to illegally cross into the U.S. until the border is secured.

“Many hardworking farm and ranch families continue sharing examples of property damages, which are costly to repair. As the border crisis continues, we recognize short-term solutions, like the EQIP funding program, are needed,” Boening said. “We hope USDA will continue to work with Texas farmers and ranchers to ensure this program meets their unique needs. However, we cannot stress enough the critical importance of acting on a long-term solution. Action is needed now to secure the border, first and foremost. That is the only way this crisis can truly be addressed.”

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