Drought and Disaster Resources for Texas Producers

By Justin Duncan and Robert Maggiani, NCAT Agriculture Specialists


Support programs exist to help minimize the negative long-term business impacts that result from lack of water. This publication lists and explains a selection of producer resources available from various agencies at both the state and national levels. Resources are listed in order of relevance.

Federal Programs

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA)

The FSA provides assistance to producers affected by natural-disaster losses resulting from drought, flood, fire, freeze, tornadoes, pest infestation, and other calamities. The 2014 Farm Bill indefinitely extended the following disaster programs, made them retroactive to October 1, 2011, and eliminated the requirement to purchase crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage in order to be eligible.

Microloan Program –Offers direct farm-operating loans with a shortened application process and reduced paperwork to meet the needs of smaller, non-traditional, and niche-type operations. See the fact sheet Microloans.

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) – Provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when yields fall below a percentage of expected yield, paying an amount (calculated by FSA) of the value of the crop lost at a price determined by FSA. These rates are determined by the Farm Bill. Producers must apply for coverage by the application deadline and pay a service fee.

Emergency Farm Loans – Provides loans to assist producers with replacing essential property, paying for production costs during a disaster year, and refinancing debt and business/living expenses. Eligibility is limited to producers within counties designated as disaster areas by the USDA Secretary of Agriculture.

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) – Pays out a capped percentage of the producer’s lost costs, to help farmers and ranchers repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters and put in place methods for water conservation during severe drought. Examples are removing debris from farmland, restoring livestock fences and conservation structures, and grading and shaping damaged farmland. There are various eligibility restrictions and FSA county committees determine eligibility based on on-site inspections.

Disaster Set-Aside Program – Allows qualifying producers who have existing direct loans with FSA, and who are unable to make scheduled payments, to move up to one full year’s payments to the end of the loan.

Emergency Haying and Grazing of Conservation Reserve Program Acreage (CRP) – Allows producers with existing CRP contracts to hay or graze CRP acreage in counties approved for Emergency Haying and Grazing. Producers must receive approval from their county Farm Service Agency office prior to starting haying or grazing, and this must occur outside the Primary Nesting Season of local bird species.

Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) –The LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Funds are available through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and many other programs for conservation practices such as irrigation efficiency, cover crops, rehabilitation of existing spring developments, and protection of grazing lands. Click here to locate an office near you.

USDA Rural Development

Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant (ECWAG) – Enables rural communities that have experienced or are about to experience a significant decline in quantity or quality of drinking water due to an emergency to obtain or maintain adequate quantities of water that meets the standards set by the Safe Drinking Water Act. Click here to locate an office near you.

Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program – Provides loans, grants, and loan-guarantees for essential community facilities in rural areas and towns of up to 20,000. Loans and price guarantees are available to public entities such as municipalities, counties, boroughs, and special-purpose districts, as well as to nonprofit corporations and tribal governments.

USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA)

Crop Insurance Programs –Offer a wide variety of yield- and revenue-based insurance products. These policies, which are sold and serviced by private insurance companies, vary across commodities and counties in Texas and cover many natural causes of loss. A fact sheet on Texas crop and livestock insurance products can be found here.

Texas Assistance Programs

Texas Department Agriculture (TDA) Drought Resources
Contains links to numerous resources such as the Drought Monitor, state reservoir levels, watering restriction maps, and others.

Texas Water Resources Institute
Provides links to drought resources, including maps of the effects of the drought on surface water, county burn bans, the Texas Water Development Board, and others.

Texas A&M University Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN)
Offers a compilation of drought websites.

Texas State Drought Preparedness Council
Provides monthly Texas-wide situation reports on the drought and the Drought Annex to the State of Texas Emergency Management Plan.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Furnishes drought resources, presentations, and text messaging information.

Hay Exchanges
Connect those needing hay with those who have hay to sell.

Texas Natural Resources Library
Distributes the publication Plant Poisonings in Livestock, which indicates that as foraging resources become scarce, it becomes more likely that livestock will ingest toxic plants in their search for nutrition.

Texas Comptroller
Offers tax relief.

ATTRA Publications

Conserving Irrigation Water

Energy Saving Tips for Irrigators (IP278), 16 pages

Maintaining Irrigation Pumps, Motors, and Engines (IP299), 16 pages

Soil Moisture Monitoring: Low-Cost Tools and Methods (IP277), 12 pages

Building Drought Resilient Soils

Drought Resistant Soil (IP169), 7 pages

Overview of Cover Crops and Green Manures (IP024), 16 pages

Drought-Resilient Grazing Practices

No-Till Case Study, Miller Farm: Restoring Grazing Land with Cover Crops (IP444), 8 pages

Richter No-Till Case Study: Using Cover Crop Cocktails in a Forage-Based Crop System (IP437), 8 pages

Protecting Riparian Areas: Farmland Management Strategies (IP186), 36 pages

Guides to Federal Resources

Federal Working Lands Conservation Resources for Sustainable Farming and Ranching (IP294), 20 pages

Crop Insurance Options for Specialty, Diversified, and Organic Farmers (IP 438), 20 pages

Other National Drought Resources

Farm Aid, Disaster Assistance for Farmers
Contains a wide assortment of very useful links ranging from information on disaster support to legal considerations.

Farmers’ Legal Action Group
Provides the Farmers’ Guide to Disaster Assistance and record-keeping templates.

National Drought Mitigation Center and Monitor
Provides current drought condition maps.

Climate Prediction Center Drought Assessment
Issues drought forecasting maps.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands & Beyond
Offers a comprehensive guide on rainwater harvesting methods.

ReadyAG Workbook: Disaster and Defense Preparedness for Production Agriculture
Helps a producer identify vulnerable areas of production and management, prioritize areas to strengthen, create a specific action plan, develop an accurate inventory of assets, identify and engage local critical services, and find additional help.

Plants Poisonous to Livestock in the Western States
Details poisonous plants identified by USDA Agricultural Research Service.

Drought and Disaster Resources for Texas Producers
By Justin Duncan and Robert Maggiani, NCAT Agriculture Specialists
Published January 2015
Slot 504

This publication is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG.