WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make $20 million available for agricultural water conservation efforts throughout California to combat the effects of the drought, according to a press release.

Interested landowners and managers have until March 3 to apply for available funds, noted the release.

"Working with our federal, state and local partners, we are doing everything within our power to support those farmers and ranchers affected by this intense drought." said Vilsack. "These funds will help get a suite of scientifically proven conservation techniques on the ground and helping producers. USDA has a long, successful history of helping farmers and ranchers plan for and employ conservation practices that conserve and protect and maximize every available drop of water."

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The announcement comes as part of broader Obama Administration efforts to help those impacted by the drought; through the National Drought Resilience Partnership, launched as part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, federal agencies are working closely with state, local government, agriculture and other partners on a coordinated response, reported the release.

According to the release, USDA is announcing this additional funding through the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help agricultural operators use water more efficiently, stabilize fallowed cropland and protect their livelihoods for the future, with funds available for conservation practices including irrigation efficiency, cover crops, rehabilitation of existing spring developments, protection of grazing land and more.

Read the full release here.