Sources of Drought Assistance

Emergency Drought Assistance Updates

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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 fsa.usda.gov/disaster.

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.

Water Source Development Grants

The DACF Division of Agricultural Resource Development has utilized state and federal dollars to research the needs of farmers for water sources and irrigation. In the past, the Division has administered bonds to fund a water source development program to help farmers build water sources to mitigate drought. The Maine Legislature has approved four bond measures totaling $5.5 million dollars since 2001 to assist in new water source development. The Division has provided over $5.3 million to develop 179 projects for new water sources for farms. The program has protected over 11 thousand acres of farmland with crop value of over $33 Million.

Currently, there are no grant application requests for proposals for new water source developments for agricultural entities. Contact us at (207) 287-3491 or email dacf@maine.gov to be put on a list for future solicitations.

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.

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