USDA reopens sign-up for farmers recovering from disasters

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disaster assistance
(USDA photo by Preston Keres)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin accepting disaster assistance program applications on June 4 from agricultural producers who suffered livestock, honeybees, farm-raised fish and other losses due to natural disasters in 2017 or 2018.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is reopening the application period for two disaster assistance programs in response to statutory changes made by Congress earlier this year.

FSA will accept new applications for losses for calendar year 2017 or 2018 filed under the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) or Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP).

Producers who already submitted applications and received decisions on their applications for these years do not need to file again, but they can reapply if they have additional losses or their application was disapproved because it was filed late.

Why is there more disaster assistance?

In February, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which made several changes to these two disaster programs.

It removed the emergency assistance $20 million fiscal year funding cap, enabling FSA to pay producers’ 2017 applications in full and their 2018 applications as soon as they are approved.

It also removed the per-person and legal entity annual program payment limitation of $125,000 for Livestock Indemnity Program for 2017 and future years. (The income limitation applies as it did before, meaning producers with an adjusted gross income of more than $900,000 are not eligible.)

The indemnity program also now lets producers receive a payment for injured livestock that are sold for a reduced price due to an eligible event. Previously, the program only covered financial loss for livestock death above normal mortality.

Producers interested in either program should contact their local USDA service center. To apply, producers will need to provide verifiable and reliable production records and other information about their operation.

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