MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – State conservation services are offering $400,000 in federal funds for drought-affected farmers to plant cover crops so that livestock might be fed and erosion controlled.

State conservationist Don Baloun of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) announced Thursday that farmers affected by drought conditions would be able to sign up for assistance through a program called the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The state NRCS, which was formerly the Soil Conservation Service, is allocating $400,000 for the EQIP sign-up. The sign-up will take place Aug. 6- 10 and will focus on “the planting of cover crops for supplemental livestock feed and erosion control,” the NRCS said in a release.

The counties the sign-up includes are those severely affected by drought: Beltrami, Blue Earth, Clay, Cottonwood, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Jackson, Lac Qui Parle, Lake of the Woods, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Martin, Marshall, Mower, Murray, Nobles, Norman, Pennington, Pipestone, Polk, Red Lake, Redwood, Rock, Watonwan and Yellow Medicine.

Funding priority will be given to livestock farmers who need additional feed, the NRCS said.

The announcement of the program is a response to one made by the USDA last month and the “NRCS’ understanding of the heavy loss of hay and forage impacting livestock producers in Minnesota,” Baloun said.

For more on EQIP, got to the NRCS website.