FSA disaster programs

Farmers in several areas of Iowa have experienced various weather-related disasters this year, from tornadoes to flooding. USDA has several different programs that offer disaster assistance specific to livestock producers.

You’ve probably heard about livestock disaster programs available through the USDA Farm Service Agency, but perhaps you aren’t sure if this applies to your farming operation. What programs are available and who is eligible? Beth Grabau, public information and outreach specialist with the state FSA office in Des Moines, provides the following answers.

The 2008 Farm Bill authorized several livestock-related disaster programs. Some are new to FSA and provide different forms of assistance. FSA administers programs that help producers recover from livestock deaths, feed losses and other losses associated with livestock production.

Programs available are the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP); and Emergency and Farm Operating Loans. With the exception of the loan programs, most of these programs are only authorized through the end of the current farm program and thus are for eligible losses that occur before Oct. 1, 2011.

Livestock producers need to remember that timely reporting to their local FSA offices is key to the eligibility for many of these programs.

Fact sheets for the above listed programs can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov; click on “Newsroom,” then “Fact sheets.”

Question: How do these programs work?

Answer: The Livestock Indemnity Program, or LIP, provides benefits to commercial livestock producers when deaths are in excess of normal mortality caused by an adverse weather condition. Payments are made on a per head basis for cattle, poultry, swine, elk, goats, emus, sheep and other livestock that were lost.

Drought isn’t the problem in Iowa now, but keep in mind that the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, or LFP, provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who suffer grazing losses for covered livestock on land that was affected by drought.

The ELAP, or Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program, covers losses that aren’t covered by LIP, LFP or the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program. This program covers honeybees and farm-raised fish for commercial purposes, while the other programs do not.

Besides livestock losses, ELAP also covers feed and grazing losses for those eligible and if the loss is due to an adverse weather condition. Eligibility is for feed loss of purchased and mechanically harvested forage and feedstuffs, as well as additional costs incurred for providing or transporting feed to livestock, or costs for purchasing additional feed above normal to maintain livestock during an adverse weather condition. Feed losses cannot exceed 90 days of lost feed.

Question: How do the emergency or farm operating loans fit in?

Answer: Emergency or farm operating loans are available to help farmers recover from production and physical losses due to natural disasters. These loans can be for physical loss to livestock or livestock products, as well as to restore or replace essential buildings or other property needed for the farming or ranching enterprise.

Emergency loans for farmers suffering a physical or production loss are available after an area is declared by the U.S. president as a disaster area or designated by the U.S. secretary of agriculture as a disaster.

Question: What do I need to do to sign up? What documentation is needed?

Answer: Some disaster programs require a Notice of Loss be reported to FSA within 30 days of the loss. We encourage all who have suffered a disaster due to the recent severe weather conditions to contact their local FSA office so they can begin the application process.

Producers need to document the number and kind of livestock that have died as a direct result of the adverse weather. There may also be situations where producers are transporting feed to their livestock. Producers should document these additional costs. Good records that document losses or additional expenses are very important.

Annually filing an accurate and timely acreage report for all crops and land uses on cropland and non-cropland is also important. These crop reports document the type of grazing land producers have an interest in. Planting dates for these crops by field is also required.

Final date to report all crop acreage including CRP, hay and grasses was June 30. Late filing fees are charged by farm for acres that are certified after the deadline. Minimum fee per farm is $46.

Contact your local FSA office regarding applications for farm operating loans. Applications for emergency loans must be received within eight months of the county’s disaster designation date.

To learn more

If you have specific questions about USDA farm programs, contact your local Farm Service Agency office. More news and information about USDA programs is at www.fsa.usda.gov.


This article published in the July, 2011 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.