USDA provides multiple programs to help farms after disasters

By Amber McIver-Traywick

The Surveyor

For Coloradans the historic flooding and the impacts from last week’s blizzard hitting states like neighboring Nebraska, where early estimates from state and industry officials already put losses for the agricultural sector at nearly a billion dollars, it’s a reminder that nature can quickly take a life-altering toll on both people and livestock. Our state can also be a place of extremes, and those who have a livelihood tied to the land know that fact better than most. What some might not know is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has several programs in place to help people who might find themselves in a dire situation.

The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish producers who have losses due to disease, adverse weather or other conditions, such as the blizzard we experienced in Colorado last week, and wildfires that are not covered by other agricultural disaster-assistance programs.

Eligible livestock losses include grazing losses not covered under what’s called the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), the loss of purchased feed and/or mechanically harvested feed due to adverse weather events, the additional cost of transporting water because of drought and the additional costs with gathering livestock to treat for cattle tick fever.

Even those who keep honeybees can be helped through the program. Eligible honeybee losses include loss of purchased feed or the cost of additional feed purchased due to adverse weather events, colony losses in excess of normal mortality due to a weather event or loss condition, including Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) which happens when an entire colony suddenly dies.

Additionally, the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) provides assistance to eligible producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather, disease, and also attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the federal government or protected by federal law.

LIP compensates livestock owners and contract growers for livestock death losses due to adverse weather, including losses due to hurricanes, floods, blizzards, wildfires, extreme heat or extreme cold.

For disease losses, Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees can accept veterinarian certifications that livestock deaths were directly related to adverse weather and unpreventable through good animal husbandry and management. Livestock owners must file a notice within 30 calendar days of when the loss is first apparent to be accepted. In addition to filing a notice of loss, producers must also submit an application for payment by March 1, 2020. Additional Information about LIP is available at your local FSA office or online at fsa.usda.gov.

Although everyone hopes something catastrophic doesn’t happen in our area it’s good to be informed beforehand about what resources are available if and when they unfortunately do. For more information visit fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program/index and to access fact sheets about these and other FSA assistance programs visit www.fsa.usda.gov/factsheets.

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