Ag. Secretary assures FY22 watershed funding secured by Hyde-Smith will help address damages caused by June 2021 excessive rain event.

On Tuesday, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hosted Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at a hearing to review the FY2023 budget request for the USDA and related agencies, like the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and its Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program.

During the hearing, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) looked to determine a sufficient level of funding for the WFPO program that assists Mississippi communities with flood mitigation, water quality improvements, erosion control, and related activities.

“Like many rural communities and landowners across the United States, Mississippi and its people have been hit particularly hard in recent years by excessive rainfall, flooding, and other problems caused by natural disasters,” Senator Hyde-Smith said.

“The Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program has been invaluable in allowing small towns to recover from these events, and, importantly, to also prepare for the next one because the next one will be coming as well,” Hyde-Smith continued.

Hyde-Smith sought assurances from Agriculture Secretary Vilsack that the NRCS could effectively use the additional funding sought for the WFPO Program in FY2023.

Vilsack endorsed increased funding, adding that he thinks the key is to not just increase the resources, but make sure that there is staff on the ground to make sure resources can be implemented in the right way.

The Agriculture Secretary also said NRCS personnel are working with local sponsors on using the $8.4 million in WFPO funding the Hyde-Smith helped secure in FY2022 for nine flood control, erosion reduction, and bank stabilization projects in nine Mississippi counties.

You can watch the full committee hearing below.