Sources of Drought Assistance

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Federal Programs

USDA Farm Service Agency

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist farmers experiencing drought. Available programs and loans include:

  • Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) - provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters including qualifying drought.
  • Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) – provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who suffered grazing losses for covered livestock due to drought.  
  • Tree Assistance Program (TAP)– provides financial assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant and/or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes, and vines lost due to a qualifying natural disaster.
  • Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) - provides emergency relief for losses due to feed or water shortages, disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, which are not adequately addressed by other disaster programs.
  • Emergency Loan Program – available to producers with agriculture operations located in a county under a primary or contiguous Secretarial Disaster designation. These low interest loans help producers recover from production and physical losses.
  • Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) - provides cost share, up to 75% of the producer’s actual costs, to provide emergency water during periods of severe drought (specifically for grazing and confined livestock and existing orchards and vineyards). Approved practices and measures may include:
    • installing pipelines or other facilities for livestock water or existing irrigation systems for orchards and vineyards
    • constructing and deepening wells for livestock water
    • developing springs or seeps for livestock water.

Producers experiencing drought related losses should contact their local FSA Office

Additional information on these programs can be obtained by visiting

USDA Rural Development Agency

Rural Development offers community grants and loans for a variety of projects. Contact RD for more information.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

NRCS offers a variety of voluntary technical and financial assistance programs to eligible landowners and agricultural producers. 

State Programs

Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund can assist farms with capital improvements including irrigation systems and water supplies.

Agricultural Water Management Board

The board works in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Protection to oversee and coordinate environmentally sound and affordable development of water sources for agricultural use. The board can make recommendations for improvements to federal and state permitting processes for the development of farm ponds and other water sources for agricultural use; work to secure funding for the construction of environmentally sound, efficient and affordable water sources for agricultural use; and facilitate the implementation of sustainable agricultural water source programs.

Farmer Drought Relief Grant Program

In August of 2022, Governor Mills signed legislation establishing the Maine Farmer Drought Relief Grant Program to support Maine farmers in identifying and accessing new water sources to overcome the adverse effects of drought conditions. The Legislature has provided a $1 million initial appropriation and $ 300,000 of annual ongoing funding. DACF is developing the rules governing this grant and expects to launch the program in October 2024.

Potential applicants can stay informed on the development of the funding opportunity by signing up for the ARD's Agricultural Grants email list. Farmers seeking alternative funding options for irrigation and water access are encouraged to contact Michelle Webb at to discuss other potential funding sources.

Residential Property Owners

If you are a residential property owner, or if you are having problems with a well that serves your home on a farm, additional advice and assistance may be available from:

Maine State Drinking Water Program

Maine State Housing Authority

Irrigation Resources