FRESNO, Calif. — Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack and President Barack Obama announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide additional assistance to help farmers, ranchers and residents affected by severe drought in California, according to a press release.

"President Obama and I will continue to do everything within our power to support California farmers, ranchers and families living in drought-stricken areas. This assistance, coupled with other aid being made available across government, should provide some relief during this difficult time," said Vilsack. "Thanks to the newly-signed Farm Bill, we are now able to offer long-awaited livestock disaster assistance, which will provide needed stability for California livestock producers impacted by drought."

The USDA has made implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill livestock disaster assistance programs a top priority and plans to have the programs available for sign-up by April 15, noted the release.

The USDA has declared 54 counties in California as primary natural disaster areas due to drought, the release reported.

According to the release, additional USDA resources announced for California and other drought-stricken states on Friday include: $100 million in livestock disaster assistance for California producers; $15 million in targeted conservation assistance for the most extreme and exceptional drought areas; $5 million in targeted Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program assistance to the most drought impacted areas of California to protect vulnerable soils; $60 million made available to food banks in the State of California to help families economically impacted by the drought; 600 summer meal sites to be established in California's drought stricken areas; and $3 million in Emergency Water Assistance Grants for rural communities experiencing water shortages.

Read the full release here.

See Water Technology’s continuing coverage of the California water crisis here:

California governor declares state of emergency

WRD issues statement supporting California state of emergency declaration

Napa Valley vineyards could face reduced yield in 2014

PWQA donates $2,500 to Community Water Center

California organizations to host 2014 Drought Briefing

California irrigation equipment sales spike due to drought

Californians focus on desal to help ease drought issues