Drought Resources

Drought Resources for Organic Operations

As organic operations face unprecedented drought conditions in the western region in 2014, CCOF is trying to help by offering drought resources and ways for organic operations to support each other.

We are frequently updating this page as more information and resources become available. LAST UPDATE: 4/3/14

Financial Assistance/Grants/Help

2014 CCOF Drought Disaster Assistance Program: Thanks to a special grant from Farm Aid, CCOF is joining with Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) to make special hardship funds available to growers affected by the drought. CCOF will offer drought disaster grants to certified organic farmers while CAFF will offer the grants to family farmers who use sustainable agriculture practices. The CCOF funds are available to any certified organic producer, not only those certified by CCOF. Learn more about the requirements and how to apply.

56 of California's 58 Counties Have Been Declared a Drought Disaster: Agricultural operators in all counties designated as natural disaster areas may qualify for low interest emergency (EM) loans of up to $500,000 through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Farmers and ranchers in designated counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for the EM loan to help cover part of their actual losses. To verify the deadline for application in your area, contact your county's FSA office.

Livestock producers in 50 California counties are eligible for Emergency Conservation Program Assistance through the Farm Service Agency. Sign-up ends March 27. View a list of counties eligible for this assistance and information on how to contact to your local FSA office.

NRCS Drought Conservation Assistance to California Farmers and Ranchers: Find out how to write a conservation plan that will be the basis for applying for assistance. The site also provides information on applying for EQIP Drought Response Initiative funds and eligibility for irrigated cropland and grazing lands assistance (see Application Screening Worksheets). Applications will be accepted on a continuous basis.

$35,000 Microloan Program through FSA: Microloans are direct farm operating loans designed to meet the needs of smaller operations. Up to $35,000 can be borrowed. Learn more about microloans from FSA California State Executive Director Val Dolcini. To apply, contact your local FSA office.

A Temporary Variance has been approved by the National Organic Program for organic livestock producers.

Farm Service Agency Livestock Forage Disaster Program Eligibility Tool: Use this tool to find out if you are eligible for livestock forage disaster assistance.

Information, Resources, Tools

CDFA Drought Resources Page: Includes information in Spanish and a list of federal and state agencies and various assistance programs.

USDA Drought Programs and Assistance: Includes link to FSA Hay Net (Internet-based service allowing farmers and ranchers to share "Need Hay" ads and "Have Hay" ads online) and "Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch."

UC Cooperative Extension: The latest research-based information on weathering a drought (posted March 17, 2014). Also, view the list of upcoming Cooperative Extension drought-related events.

Do you have crop or processing wastes that could feed organic livestock? Post a free classified with us and help your fellow organic producers. Read our Call to Action posting.

UC Davis Rangeland Watershed Laboratory: Managing for Drought - Information on preparing for the various stages of drought.

Emergency Haying and Grazing - This program allows haying and grazing by producers with CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) contracts, though these activities can only take place outside of the Primary Nesting Season, which is April 1-June 1, 2014. As of now, Monterey County has been approved for emergency haying and San Luis Obispo and Siskiyou counties have been approved for emergency haying and grazing. Emergency haying and grazing must be approved by your county FSA office in advance.

Livestock producers have been exploring sprouted fodder as an alternative livestock feed that greatly reduces the amount of water used compared with field production. Read an overview of the process. Note that certified organic livestock and poultry producers must use certified organic seed in producing their sprouted fodder.

Farm Aid: Disaster Assistance for Farmers

California Foodlink: Source of healthy food for those needing a little help.


Crop Insurance Sign-Ups: Sign-ups for crop insurance through the Risk Management Agency (RMA) have ended for the year. As noted in this CCOF blog entry, organic producers now have expanded crop insurance options, something to keep in mind when planning for next year.

The Farm Service Agency manages a Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). While the deadline has passed for this year, application closing dates for 2015 coverage have been announced. This program provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when yields/inventory are less than 50% of expected or more than 35% of planting is prevented due to natural disasters, including drought. Producers must apply for coverage by the application closing date and pay a service fee (which is waived for producers who demonstrate limited resources). Producers with a 3-year non-farm average adjusted gross income greater than $500,000 are not eligible. Farmers have 15 days to file a Notice of Loss after noticing or experiencing loss. Click here for more information on NAP. Contact your local FSA office for more information.


  • U.S. Drought Monitor Western Region. Shows a color-coded drought map.
  • NYTimes.com: "The Dust Bowl Returns," featuring CCOF-certified farmers Tom and denesse Willey. (February 9, 2014)
  • A series of videos from the Mitigating Drought webinar held at the Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center in January 2014.
  • The California Institute of Rural Studies is posting a series of articles explaining the complexity of California’s water system, water law, and implications for agriculture.
  1. Groundwater Storage and Delivery Infrastructure in California
  2. Surface Water Storage and Delivery Infrastructure in California