USDA to Provide $6 Billion in Natural Disaster Assistance to Producers

Brian GermanAgri-Business, USDA-NRCS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing approximately $6 billion in natural disaster assistance to commodity and specialty crop producers. Support payments will be provided to producers as relief for disaster events that occurred in 2020 and 2021. Payments are being made possible through the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) new Emergency Relief Program (ERP). The first wave of payments will be based on crop insurance data.

Natural Disaster Assistance

“For over two years, farmers and ranchers across the country have been hard hit by an ongoing pandemic coupled with more frequent and catastrophic natural disasters,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. “As the agriculture industry deals with new challenges and stressors, we at USDA look for opportunities to inject financial support back into the rural economy through direct payments to producers who bear the brunt of circumstances beyond their control. These emergency relief payments will help offset the significant crop losses due to major weather events in 2020 and 2021 and help ensure farming operations are viable this crop year, into the next growing season and beyond.”

ERP is designed to offset crop yield and value losses that producers have suffered as a result of natural disasters including wildfires, excessive heat, smoke exposure, and qualifying drought. Existing Federal Crop Insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) information will be the basis for calculating initial payments. FSA will be sending pre-filled application forms to farmers that already have crop insurance and NAP data on file to expedite the delivery of benefits.

Natural disaster assistance provided through phase one of ERP will depend on the type and level of insurance coverage that producers have. Producers that receive phase one payments through ERP will be required to purchase either crop insurance or NAP coverage for the next two crop years. Once payments are processed through phase one, the remaining funding available will be used to cover gaps identified under phase two.

About the Author

Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West