U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) North Carolina Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Bob Etheridge, reminds farmers and livestock producers of federal farm program benefits that may be available to help eligible producers recover from recent heavy rains, flooding and other qualifying natural disaster events related to Hurricane Matthew.
“This significant weather event in North Carolina has left extensive damage in its wake,” SED Etheridge. “As such, many farmers and livestock producers are experiencing crop loss and forage loss, displaced and deceased livestock and property damage.”
FSA offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist agricultural producers in their recovery efforts following qualifying natural disasters. Available programs and loans include:
• Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) – provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters (includes native grass for grazing). Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2016 crops.
• Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) – offers payments to eligible producers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. Eligible losses may include those determined by FSA to have been caused by hurricanes, floods, blizzards, wildfires, tropical storms, tornados lightening, extreme heat, and extreme cold. Producers will be required to provide verifiable documentation of death losses resulting from an eligible adverse weather event and must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is apparent.
• Tree Assistance Program (TAP) – provides assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers for qualifying tree, shrub and vine losses due to natural disaster.
• Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) – The objective of EFRP is to restore nonindustrial private forest land (NIPF) damaged by natural disasters. Cost-share assistance is provided to owners of NIPF that has been damaged by a natural disaster such as Hurricane Matthew.
• Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) – provides emergency relief for losses due to feed or water shortages, disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, which are not adequately addressed by other disaster programs. ELAP covers physically damaged or destroyed livestock feed that was purchased or mechanically harvested forage or feedstuffs intended for use as feed for the producer’s eligible livestock. In order to be considered eligible, harvested forage must be baled; forage that is only cut, raked or windrowed is not eligible. Producers must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss is apparent. ELAP also covers up to 150 lost grazing days in instances when a producer has been forced to remove livestock from a grazing pasture due to floodwaters. For beekeepers, ELAP covers beehive losses (the physical structure) in instances where the hive has been destroyed by a natural disaster including flooding, high winds and tornadoes.
• Emergency Loan Program – Available to producers with agriculture operations located in a county under a primary or contiguous Secretarial Disaster designation. These low interest loans help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding.
• Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) – provides emergency funding for farmers and livestock producers to rehabilitate land severely damaged by natural disasters; includes fence loss.
• HayNet – is an Internet-based Hay and Grazing Net Ad Service allowing farmers and livestock producers to share ‘Need Hay’ ads and ‘Have Hay’ ads online. Farmers also can use another feature to post advertisements for grazing land, specifically ads announcing the availability of grazing land or ads requesting a need for land to graze. www.fsa.usda.gov/haynet.
To establish or retain FSA program eligibility, farmers and livestock producers must report prevented planting and failed acres (crops and grasses). Prevented planting acreage must be reported on form FSA576, Notice of Loss, no later than 15 calendar days after the final planting date as established by FSA and Risk Management Agency (RMA).
“Thankfully, the 2014 Farm Bill reinstated these safety-net programs for farmers and livestock producers suffering the devastating impacts of natural disasters such as Hurricane Matthew,” said SED Etheridge “Because of the Farm Bill, we, as an Agency, can quickly respond to the recovery needs of our producers.”