FSA disaster program availability

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides assistance to qualifying farmers and ranchers within Washington state to help them recover from production or physical losses due to natural disaster events, such as the fires currently burning. This assistance is provided through FSA’s Emergency Loan Program or one of its many disaster programs. Below is a quick overview of FSA’s disaster programs that may be available in response to fire and flooding as well as brief descriptions of qualifying persons and eligibility information.

Notice of Losses for programs such as ELAP, LIP, NAP and TAP are required to be filed timely and may be filed by phone, email or by appointment. Please see each specific program description for required Notice of Losses filing timeframe as deadlines vary between programs. Please note that some programs such as ECP, EFRP, EM and TAP require that environmental reviews are complete prior to actions being taken that are associated with the application. It is critical that no work begins prior to receiving notice of approval from FSA on the required environmental review.

This information is intended to provide a brief overview of each disaster program that may be available and to highlight requirements of participation in the program. Producers wishing to file an application should contact their local FSA office for more information and for specific eligibility requirements. Additional Information on all USDA disaster recovery programs can also be found at farmers.gov/recover.

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). Available for fire and flooding. The ECP provides cost share assistance up 75 percent (up to 90 percent for Limited Resource (LR), Socially Disadvantaged (SDA) or beginning farmer/rancher (BF)) of the cost of rehabilitation to the farmland and/or conservation structures damaged by a natural disaster such as wildfire or flooding. Payment limitation is limited to $500,000. A 25 percent advance payment may be requested to assist with upfront costs of the restoration. Eligible practices include, but are not limited to:

  • Debris removal;
  • Grading, shaping or leveling of land;
  • Fence restoration; and
  • Restoration of conservation structures.

Eligible applicants must submit documentation of damage (pictures, third-party verification, etc.) as soon as possible. It is important that no work begins prior to contacting FSA and requesting assistance as completion of an environmental review must be done prior to work beginning.

Emergency Haying and Grazing. This program gives producers the ability to hay or graze Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts in areas that have been impacted by eligible natural disasters. Payment reductions no longer apply under emergency provisions, and counties may be approved when a forage loss of 40 percent or more is seen within a county. Emergency haying is authorized in approved counties for up to 60 days. Emergency grazing is authorized for a single period up to 90 days, but livestock must be removed 30 days prior to the first freeze date established for the county. All requests for emergency haying or grazing must be processed through the FSA committee, and an approved or modified conservation plan must be in place prior to approval. Producers wishing to utilize these provisions should contact their local FSA office.

Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP). Available for fire and flooding. EFRP provides cost share assistance to eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest land to restore forest land damaged by a natural disaster such as wildfire. Up to 75 percent of the cost of restoration may be provided to eligible applicants, with a payment limitation of $500,000. Eligible practices include, but are not limited to:

  • Debris removal;
  • Site preparation, planting materials, and labor;
  • Restoration of roads or erosion control structures; and
  • Tree shelters or tubes.

Eligible applicants must submit documentation of damage (pictures, third-party verification, etc) as soon as possible. It is important that no work begins prior to contacting FSA and requesting assistance as completion of an environmental review must be done prior to work beginning.

Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). Available for fire, except on federally managed land, and flooding. ELAP provides assistance to eligible livestock producers who suffer feed and grazing losses associated to adverse weather events such as wildfire. Eligible land under ELAP must be privately owned. The daily payment rate per AU for all eligible livestock kinds/types for the 2020 program year is $1.06. Payments are only issued for the number of days that the grazing land was lost, not to exceed 180 calendar days for grazing losses due to fire. Eligible livestock producers must submit verifiable or reliable documentation including, but not limited to:

  • Livestock inventory numbers;
  • Documentation of additional feed purchases above normal quantities; and
  • Proof of livestock removal from the effected pasture.

In addition to the aforementioned documentation, eligible producers must file a Notice of Loss/application on the CCC-851.

Emergency Loan Program (EM). Available for fire and flooding when authorized by a disaster declaration. The EM provides emergency loan funds to producers within primary and contiguous counties where a disaster declaration has been issued and typically have a repayment term of one to seven years. Declarations must be issued by the president or secretary of agriculture before funds become available. Emergency loan funds (up to $500,000) can be utilized to assist with restoration or replacement of essential property, production costs associated with the disaster year, essential family living expenses, reorganization, or refinancing of certain debts. In addition to the required issuance of a declaration, eligible producers must also:

  • Be a US citizen or permanent resident;
  • Have an acceptable credit history;
  • Be unable to obtain credit from commercial sources;
  • Have collateral available to secure the loan; and
  • Have ability to repay the loan.

All applications must be filed within 8 months of the disaster declaration date.

Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP). Available for fire, but only on federally managed lands impacted by the fire for which the produce is prohibited by the federally managing agency from grazing. Not available for flooding. The LFP provides assistance to eligible livestock producers who have suffered losses due to wildfire on federally managed grazing land (privately owned land is eligible under ELAP). Payments are calculated at 50 percent of the monthly feed cost for the number of days that the eligible producer is prohibited from allowing the livestock to graze the federally managed rangeland, not to exceed 180 days.

Eligible livestock include:

  • Only those that would have been grazing the land during the normal grazing period for the specific pastureland.
  • Livestock that are owned, leased, purchased, under contract for purchase or those held by a contract grower during the 60 days prior to the disaster event.
  • Those maintained for commercial use as part of the farming operation (cannot be for recreational purposes, hunting, roping, for show, etc.).
  • Calves that are weaned and receive their nutrition from forage crops.

Producers wishing to file an application must do so within 30 calendar days following the end of the calendar year in which the grazing loss was suffered. In addition to completion of the CCC-855 (LFP application), producers must also provide documentation from the federal agency that they have been prohibited from grazing the leased land, a complete FSA-578 (acreage report), copy of the applicable grazing leases or CCC-855, a copy of their grower contract if applicable, and reliable or verifiable inventory records of the livestock.

Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). Available for fire and flooding. The LIP provides assistance to eligible livestock producers who have suffered losses beyond normal mortality for fire or other eligible loss conditions. Payments are provided at a rate of 75 percent of the market value of the applicable livestock (determined at the national level) that died as a direct result of the eligible loss condition, minus the adjustments made for normal mortality for the year.

Eligible livestock include:

  • Only those that would have been grazing the land during the normal grazing period for the specific pastureland.
  • Livestock that are owned, leased, purchased, under contract for purchase, or those held by a contract grower during the 60 days prior to the disaster event.
  • Those maintained for commercial use as part of the farming operation (cannot be for recreational purposes, hunting, roping, for show, etc.).
  • Calves that are weaned and receive their nutrition from forage crops.

Producers wishing to file an application must submit a Notice of Loss on CCC-852 within 30 days of when the loss becomes apparent. All applications for payment must be complete (including request for payment on the CCC-852 and submission of all supporting documentation) within 60 calendar days following the end of the calendar year of which the loss occurs. Eligible producers must provide documentation that they were in possession or control of the livestock, their beginning and ending inventory numbers, and/or documentation of sales that occurred at reduced prices due to injuries. All documentation must be reliable or verifiable.

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). Available for fire if insurance was purchased prior to event and only as a related condition to an eligible disaster. Available for flooding if insurance was purchased prior to event. NAP provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters. Coverage must be purchased prior to a disaster event to be eligible for assistance. All application closing dates for 2020 crops have closed. The application closing date for 2021 perennial forage crops is Sept. 30, 2020. If 2020 coverage was applied for timely, NAP coverage ends once the crop is harvested. If hay was destroyed by fire after harvest, losses may be eligible for ELAP. For NAP-covered crops, a notice of loss must be filed with your FSA county office the earlier of 15 days of the occurrence of the disaster or when losses become apparent or 15 days of the final harvest date.

NRCS programs

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) also offers programs to farmers and ranchers who have been impacted by natural disasters, including drought assistance and the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.

Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP). All EWP projects must reduce threats to lives and property; be economically, environmentally and socially defensible; be designed and implemented according to sound technical standards; and conserve natural resources. Eligibility for EWP does not depend upon a presidentially declared emergency. Each NRCS state conservationist is authorized to declare a local disaster emergency, which triggers the same assistance from NRCS that would be available through a presidentially declared disaster. Through EWP, the NRCS may pay up to 75 percent of the construction costs of eligible recovery projects. Ninety percent may be paid for projects within limited resource areas as identified by U.S. Census data.

For more information on NRCS programs that may be available in your area, contact your county NRCS office.

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