Wednesday, September 27, 2023

USDA Provides Update on Forthcoming Disaster Assistance

by Colter Brown

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided an update at the NCBA Convention in Houston on forthcoming assistance for agricultural producers impacted by weather-related disasters in calendar years 2020 and 2021.

“Over the past two years, as agricultural producers have struggled with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have been hard-hit by more frequent and more intense natural disasters,” said Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation.  “With the help of Congress, USDA is working to deliver $10 billion in much-needed relief, including $750 million for livestock producers impacted by the severe drought. As we work to administer this assistance, we remain guided by our goals to streamline the application process to reduce the burden on producers, proactively include underserved producers who have been left out of past relief efforts and encourage participation in existing risk management tools that can help producers weather future extreme weather events.”


Phase One for Crop Producers

The broader program to provide assistance to crop producers will follow a two-phased process similar to that of the livestock assistance with implementation of first phase this spring. Phase one of the crop assistance program delivery will use existing Federal Crop Insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program data as the basis for calculating initial payments.

Making the initial payments using existing safety net and risk management data will both speed implementation and further encourage participation in these permanent programs, including the Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Rainfall Index Crop Insurance Program, as Congress intended.


Phase One for Livestock Producers

For impacted ranchers, USDA will leverage Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) data to administer relief. LFP is an important tool that provides up to 60 percent of the estimated replacement feed cost when drought adversely impacts grazing lands. FSA continues to tally 2021 LFP applications filed by the January 31, 2022, deadline, but early estimates show 74,000 applications totaling more than $500 million in payments to livestock producers under LFP.

While LFP has provided a critical infusion of assistance for ranchers, widespread and severe drought conditions, especially in the Western and Plain states, last year drove prices for feed 50 percent or more above the feed cost formula.

Congress recognized requests for aid go beyond this existing program and provided specific funding for livestock producers in 2021.

For the first phase of livestock assistance, USDA intends to:

  • Use existing LFP application data;
  • Streamline the application process to require no or minimal additional paperwork; and
  • Distribute at least half the $750 million through the first phase by the end of March 2022.


Phase Two for Livestock and Crop Producers

The second phase of both the livestock and crop programs will fill additional assistance gaps and cover eligible producers who did not participate in these existing programs


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