USDA to provide $6 billion to farmers for disaster aid

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that commodity and specialty crop producers impacted by natural disaster events in 2020 and 2021 will soon begin receiving emergency relief payments totaling approximately $6 billion through the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) new Emergency Relief Program (ERP).

“The announcement from USDA is a welcome relief to wheat growers across the country who experienced unprecedented drought and other extreme weather events in 2020 and 2021,” said Nicole Berg, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers. “Last year in my home state of Washington, wheat production was nearly half what it was in 2020 due to drought, low soil moisture and extreme heat. Unfortunately, this was a familiar story across many wheat-producing states and regions in 2021, and this assistance will play a critical role in providing relief to wheat growers.”

For impacted producers, existing Federal Crop Insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) data is the basis for calculating initial payments. Phase one will cover losses to crops, trees, bushes and vines due to a qualifying natural disaster event in 2020 and 2021. Eligible crops include all crops for which crop insurance or NAP coverage was available, except for crops intended for grazing. Qualifying natural disaster events include wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms, freeze, smoke exposure, excessive moisture, qualifying drought, and related conditions. For drought, ERP assistance is available if any area within the county in which the loss occurred was rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having a D2 (severe drought) for eight consecutive weeks or D3 (extreme drought) or higher.

To streamline the delivery of ERP phase one benefits, FSA will send prefilled application forms to producers where crop insurance and NAP data are on file. Receipt of a prefilled application is not confirmation that a producer is eligible to receive an ERP phase one payment. 

For crops covered by crop insurance, the ERP phase one payment calculation for a crop and unit will depend on the type and level of coverage obtained by the producer. Each calculation will use an ERP factor based on the producer’s level of crop insurance or NAP coverage: 

• Crop insurance: The ERP factor is 75 to 95 percent depending on the level of coverage from catastrophic to at least 80 percent coverage.

• NAP: the ERP factor is 75 to 95 percent depending on the level of coverage from catastrophic to 65 percent coverage.

Read the USDA press release here.