About 30 Montana farmers and ranchers whose property was destroyed by wildfires will get $2.5 million in federal assistance to help rebuild.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., sent a press release Friday announcing the money, which is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Environmental Quality Incentive Program.
“After our relentless persistence, Montana farmers will begin to see some relief from what has been a historically difficult summer,” Tester said in the release. “This is the first wave of meaningful resources that will help producers rebuild after horrific devastation. I will keep rattling cages in Washington to ensure every farmer gets what they need to rebuild.”
Montana's congressional delegation, which also includes Republicans U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, all called for federal assitance to help offset the impact of the more than 1 million acres that have burned statewide this year. Two fires, the Lodgepole Complex that burned about 50 miles northwest of Jordan, and the Lolo Peak fire, still burning about 10 miles outside Lolo, have been approved for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants that can match state spending up to 75 percent for approved firefighting costs.
Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, also announced Thursday he was seeking to fast-track additional money from FEMA.
The money Tester announced Friday can be used to assist with livestock grazing deferment, damaged fence and post removal, livestock fencing, water facility development, critical area plantings, and cover crops.
In July, Tester penned a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue asking the USDA to tap into disaster assistance initiatives. He also invited Republican President Donald Trump to tour Montana fires.