U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Oklahoma Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Francie Tolle, reminds farmers and ranchers across the state of federal farm program benefits that may be available to help eligible producers recover from recent heavy rains and flooding.
“These widespread, significant rain events in Oklahoma have been deemed by some as, ‘the worst ever,’” said Tolle. “As such, many farmers and ranchers are experiencing prevented planting, failed acres, displaced and deceased livestock and property damage.”
FSA offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist agricultural producers in their recovery efforts following floods or similar qualifying natural disasters. Available programs and loans include:
- Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) - provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters (includes native grass for grazing). Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2015 crops.
- Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) - offers payments to eligible producers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. Eligible losses may include those determined by FSA to have been caused by hurricanes, floods, blizzards, wildfires, tropical storms, tornados, lightning, extreme heat, and extreme cold. Producers will be required to provide verifiable documentation of death losses resulting from an eligible adverse weather event and must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is apparent.
- Tree Assistance Program (TAP) – provides assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers who have experienced an 18 percent death loss of qualifying trees, shrubs and vines due to the natural disaster event.
- Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) - provides emergency relief for losses due to feed or water shortages, disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, which are not adequately addressed by other disaster programs. ELAP covers physically damaged or destroyed livestock feed that was purchased or mechanically harvested forage or feedstuffs intended for use as feed for the producer's eligible livestock. In order to be considered eligible, harvested forage must be baled; forage that is only cut, raked or windrowed is not eligible. Producers must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss is apparent.
ELAP also covers up to 150 lost grazing days in instances when a producer has been forced to remove livestock from a grazing pasture due to floodwaters. For beekeepers, ELAP covers beehive losses (the physical structure) in instances where the hive has been destroyed by a natural disaster including flooding, high winds and tornadoes.
- Emergency Loan Program – available to producers with agriculture operations located in a county under a primary or contiguous Secretarial Disaster designation. These low interest loans help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought and flooding.
- Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) - provides cost share assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate land severely damaged by the natural disaster event. Assistance may include removal of debris, repair of conservation structures, such as dams and terraces, repair of sheet and rill erosion, and/or fence restoration or replacement. Areas subject to flooding according to soil survey maps are not eligible for assistance.
- HayNet - is an Internet-based Hay and Grazing Net Ad Service allowing farmers and ranchers to share 'Need Hay' ads and 'Have Hay' ads online. Farmers also can use another feature to post advertisements for grazing land, specifically ads announcing the availability of grazing land or ads requesting a need for land to graze. www.fsa.usda.gov/haynet.
- Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Continuous Signup - provides vegetative (grass and tree) cover cost share assistance and annual rental payments for 10 to 15 years to establish conservation buffers such as filter strips and riparian areas along permanent and intermittent streams.
To establish or retain FSA program eligibility, farmers and ranchers must report prevented planting and failed acres (crops and grasses). Prevented planting acreage must be reported on form FSA-576, Notice of Loss, no later than 15 calendar days after the final planting date as established by FSA and Risk Management Agency (RMA).
“Thankfully, the 2014 Farm Bill reinstated these safety-net programs for farmers and ranchers suffering the devastating impacts of natural disasters such as this epic flood,” said Tolle. “Because of the Farm Bill, we, as an Agency, can quickly respond to the recovery needs of our producers.”
For more information on disaster assistance programs and loans, producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency office or visit us online at www.fsa.usda.gov/ok
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