02/13/2013 9:17PM

Kentucky farms eligible for federal disaster aid

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Gov. Steve Beshear announced on Wednesday that Kentucky horse breeding farms are now eligible for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Conservation Program.

The program provides emergency funding and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for implementing emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought.

The Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders estimates that about 600 commercial breeding operations in Kentucky, representing all breeds, may qualify for the assistance in the event of a disaster. Equine farms that produce breeding stock for commercial purposes as a part of their farming operation and claim the breeding stock for tax purposes with the Internal Revenue Service may be eligible for the emergency services.

Kentucky has the seventh-highest frequency of federally-declared disasters in the U.S., and has experienced 11 such disasters since 2008, including flooding, ice storms and tornadoes. All but two of the state’s 120 counties have been included in at least one disaster.

“The horse breeding industry is a vital segment of Kentucky’s agricultural economy, and it’s important that these farms have access to this program when natural disasters strike,” Beshear said. “Our continued communications with USDA helped them to understand the unique composition and needs of farms in our state.   The USDA has been receptive and compassionate in their consideration of our farm families, and I thank them and the administration for their thoughtful and substantive response to our concerns.”