As of June 29, the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already provided more than $4 billion to farmers. ERP payments support producers who suffered losses from wildfire, drought, hurricanes, winter storms, and other natural disasters. Compensation provided in the six weeks since the ERP launched represents approximately 67 percent of the more than $6 billion expected to be provided through the first phase of the program.
“We recognize the financial recovery need is great and worked deliberately to create a program delivery process that would ensure quick payments to producers,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. “I am extremely proud to share that the strategically streamlined ERP application and program implementation process have yielded the desired results – reduced burdens on and expedited payment to approximately 120,000 disaster-impacted agricultural producers, to date.”
The first phase of ERP payments has been based on existing claim data as a means to provide speedy assistance to producers. USDA has used crop insurance and Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) claim data. Back in May, pre-filled application forms were sent out to producers that suffered disaster losses in 2020 and 2021. Farmers will have until July 22 to return completed applications. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will also be sending pre-filled applications out to approximately 9,000 eligible producers with NAP coverage in mid-July.
The second phase of both ERP and Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP) will focus on producers that are not covered by other assistance programs. USDA will be keeping producers and stakeholders informed about developments as program details are made available.
Funding support for EPR and ELRP is being provided through the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act. The legislation provides $10 billion to assist agricultural producers impacted by national disasters. Farmers are encouraged to consult with their local USDA Service Center to check on program eligibility and confirm that all necessary information is on file with FSA.