USDA offering disaster assistance for winter storms

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(Farm and Dairy file photo)

COLUMBUS — The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides technical and financial assistance to help Ohio farmers and livestock producers recover from damages brought on by winter storms Uri and Viola. Agricultural producers can contact their local service center to learn about the programs available to help them recover from crop, land, infrastructure and livestock losses.

Disaster assistance

Farmers and ranchers can contact the FSA county office at the local USDA Service Center to apply for programs and learn which documents they need to provide.

Farmers who experience livestock deaths due to the winter storms may be eligible for the Livestock Indemnity Program. Meanwhile, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program provides eligible farmers with compensation for feed and grazing losses.

For both programs, farmers will need to file a notice of loss for livestock and grazing or feed losses within 30 days and honeybee losses within 15 days.

Eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers may be eligible for cost-share assistance through the Tree Assistance Program to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes or vines lost during the winter storms. For this program, a program application must be filed within 90 days.

FSA also offers a variety of direct and guaranteed loans, including operating and emergency loans, to farmers unable to secure commercial financing.

Farmers in counties with a primary or contiguous disaster designation may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses.

Risk management

The Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program provides financial assistance for crops that aren’t eligible for crop insurance to protect against lower yields or crops unable to be planted due to natural disasters including freeze, hail, excessive moisture, excessive wind or hurricanes, flood, excessive heat and qualifying drought, among others.

To receive payment, you had to purchase coverage for 2021 crops and file a notice of loss the earlier of 15 days of the occurrence of the disaster or when losses become apparent or 15 days of the final harvest date, except for hand-harvested crops, which should be reported within 72 hours.

Farmers who have risk protection through Federal Crop Insurance or this program should report crop damage to their crop insurance agent or FSA office. If they have crop insurance, farmers should report crop damage to their agent within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days.

Conservation

The Emergency Conservation Program and Emergency Forest Restoration Program can assist landowners and forest stewards with financial and technical assistance to restore damaged farmland or forests.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service also offers programs to help in the recovery process. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program can help farmers plan and implement conservation practices on farms, ranches and working forests impacted by natural disasters.

Communities

Additional NRCS programs include the Emergency Watershed Protection program, which provides assistance to local government sponsors with the cost of addressing watershed impairments or hazards such as debris removal and streambank stabilization.

Sponsors must submit a formal request to the state conservationist for assistance within 60 days of the natural disaster occurrence or 60 days from the date when access to the sites is possible. For more information, contact your local District Conservationist or the program manager, Sam West, at samuel.west@usda.gov.

More information. On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help farmers and landowners determine program or loan options.

For assistance with a crop insurance claim, farmers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent. For FSA and NRCS programs, they should contact their local USDA Service Center.

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