USDA Implements up to $2.36 Billion to Help Agricultural Producers Recover after 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires

‘2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program’ to Aid Recovery in Rural Communities

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make disaster payments of up to $2.36 billion, as provided by Congress, to help America’s farmers and ranchers recover from hurricanes and wildfires. The funds are available as part of the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). Sign-up for the new program, authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, will begin no later than July 16.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will make these disaster payments to agricultural producers to offset losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and devastating wildfires. The 2017 calendar year was a historic year for natural disasters, and this investment is part of a broader suite of programs that USDA is delivering to rural America to aid recovery. In total, the Act provided more than $3 billion in disaster relief by creating new programs and expediting or enhancing payments for producers.

“America’s farmers feed our nation and much of the world, and throughout history, they have known good years and bad years. But when significant disasters strike, we are ready to step in and provide the assistance they need,” Secretary Perdue said. “USDA is working as quickly as possible to develop procedures and a system by which affected producers can access disaster assistance. For producers new to FSA programs, we encourage you to visit your local USDA service center now to establish farm records.”

About 2017 WHIP Disaster Payments

The new 2017 WHIP will provide significant disaster assistance and be guided by the following principles:

  • Eligibility will be limited to producers in counties that experienced hurricanes or wildfires designated as presidentially-declared disasters in 2017;
  • Compensation determined by a producer’s individual losses rather than an average of losses for a particular area (where data is available);
  • Producers who purchased higher levels of risk protection, such as crop insurance and noninsured crop disaster assistance program, will receive higher payments;
  • Advance payments up to 50 percent; and
  • A requirement that payment recipients obtain future risk protection.

Other USDA Disaster Assistance

WHIP disaster payments are being issued in addition to payments through our traditional programs, some of which obtained increased funding or had amendments made by the Act to make the programs more responsive, including theEmergency Conservation Program, Emergency Watershed Protection Program, Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish ProgramTree Assistance Program and Livestock Indemnity Program.

During 2017, the U.S. experienced a historic year of weather-related disasters, with an economic impact totaling more than $300 billion. In total, the United States was impacted by 16 separate billion-dollar disaster events including three tropical cyclones, eight severe storms, two inland floods, a crop freeze, drought, and wildfire. More than 25 million people – almost eight percent of the population – were affected by major disasters.

More Information

FSA will distribute more information on how producers can file claims for WHIP disaster payments at a later date. For questions on how to establish farm records to be prepared when WHIP disaster signup begins, or to learn about other disaster assistance programs, producers are asked to contact their local USDA service center.

Montana FSA: Administration appoints new state executive director

The Trump Administration recently appointed Michael Foster as the new State Executive Director (SED) for the USDA Montana Farm Service Agency (FSA). Foster began his new position on Feb. 20, 2018.

Foster was born and raised in Townsend, Montana, and currently resides in Bozeman. From 1991 to 1994, he represented the 32nd District in the Montana House of Representatives. He then served as a state senator representing Montana’s 20th District from 1995 to 1998, where he was majority whip. Foster most recently served as regional director of advocacy for St. Vincent Healthcare.

The Farm Service Agency serves farmers, ranchers and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs. The agency offers farmers a strong safety net through the administration of farm commodity and disaster programs. FSA continues to conserve natural resources and also provides credit to agricultural producers who are unable to receive private, commercial credit, including special emphasis on beginning, underserved and women farmers and ranchers.

Under the direction of Secretary Sonny Perdue, the USDA will always be facts-based and data-driven, with a decision-making mindset that is customer-focused. Secretary Perdue leads the USDA with four guiding principles: to maximize the ability of American agriculture to create jobs, sell food and fiber, and feed and clothe the world; to prioritize customer service for the taxpayers; to ensure that our food supply is safe and secure; and to maintain good stewardship of the natural resources that provide us with our miraculous bounty. And understanding that we live in a global economy where trade is of top importance, Secretary Perdue has pledged to be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.

As SED, Foster will use his leadership experience to oversee FSA programs in a customer-focused manner to ensure a safe, affordable, abundant and nutritious food supply for consumers.

–Montana FSA

Montana FSA: USDA Announces Enrollment Period for Safety Net Coverage in 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that starting Nov. 1, 2017, farmers and ranchers with base acres in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) safety net program may enroll for the 2018 crop year. The enrollment period will end on Aug. 1, 2018.

“Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year, producers must enroll by signing a contract each program year,” said Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Administrator Steve Peterson. “I encourage producers to contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment to enroll.”

The producers on a farm that are not enrolled for the 2018 enrollment period will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2018 crop should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who made their elections in previous years must still enroll during the 2018 enrollment period.

“This week FSA is issuing approximately $850 million in rice payments,” said Peterson. “These payments are part of the $8 billion in 2016 ARC and PLC payments that started in October to assist enrolled producers who suffered a loss of revenue or price, or both. Over half a million producers will receive ARC payments and over a quarter million producers will receive PLC payments for 2016 crops.”

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities. Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity. For more details regarding these programs, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.

For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their local FSA office. To find a local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

Montana FSA: USDA issues safety-net payments to Montana farmers

USDA Montana Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting State Executive Director (SED) Amy Webbink announced that approximately 19,010 Montana farms that enrolled in safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill will receive financial assistance for the 2016 crop year. The programs, known as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), are designed to protect against unexpected drops in crop prices or revenues due to market downturns.

“These safety-net programs provide help when price and revenue fall below normal,” said Acting SED Webbink. “Payments to barley, canola, corn, lentils, oats, dry peas, grain sorghum, soybeans and wheat producers are helping provide reassurance to our Montana farm families who are standing strong against low commodity prices compounded by unfavorable growing conditions.”

Producers in 55 Montana counties have experienced a significant drop in prices or revenues below the benchmark established by the ARC or PLC program and thus, will receive payments totaling $212.7 million.  Payments related to wheat crops made up much of those payments.  There were also payments for oats, corn, grain sorghum and canola crops.  Cash flow from these payments is particularly helpful to farmers and ranchers in counties impacted by natural disasters.

“Payments by county for an eligible commodity can vary because average county yields will differ,” said Acting SED Webbink.

Statewide, over 3,237 farms participated in ARC-County and nearly 15,773 farms participated in PLC.  More details on the price and yield information used to calculate the financing assistance from the safety-net programs are available on the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc and www.fsa.usda.gov/mt.

Source: USDA

Montana FSA: Low interest emergency physical loss loans available for two counties

BOZEMAN, Mont. – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Administrator Steven J. Peterson announced that physical loss loans are available for two counties in Montana. Farm operators who have suffered major physical losses caused by multiple wildfires that occurred on July 15, 2017, and continuing, may be eligible for emergency loans.

This Administrator’s Physical Loss Notification has been issued for Mineral and Missoula counties as the primary damaged area.

Additionally, six Montana counties are contiguous to this designated disaster area, making these producers also potentially eligible for programs based on this designation. The contiguous counties are: Flathead, Granite, Lake, Powell, Ravalli and Sanders.

Producers in Clearwater, Idaho and Shoshone counties in Idaho are also eligible because they are contiguous counties.

FSA’s low interest emergency loans may be made available to any applicant with a qualifying loss in the counties named above. Approval is limited to applicants who suffered severe physical losses only.

Physical loss loans may be made to eligible farmers and ranchers to repair or replace damaged or destroyed physical property essential to the success of the agriculture operation, including livestock losses. Examples of property commonly affected include essential farm buildings, fixtures to real estate, equipment, livestock, perennial crops, fruit and nut bearing trees, and harvested or stored crops and hay.

Producers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans for physical losses.

Please contact FSA for more information on loan eligibility and the application process. FSA office information is available at http://offices.usda.gov. Additional FSA disaster assistance program information is available at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

USDA Issues Farm Safety Net and Conservation Payments

Total Exceeds $9.6 Billion

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that over $9.6 billion in payments will be made, beginning this week, to producers through the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Conservation Reserve (CRP) programs.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing approximately $8 billion in payments under the ARC and PLC programs for the 2016 crop year, and $1.6 billion under CRP for 2017.

“Many of these payments will be made to landowners and producers in rural communities that have recently been ravaged by drought, wildfires, and deadly hurricanes,” Perdue said.  “I am hopeful this financial assistance will help those experiencing losses with immediate cash flow needs as we head toward the end of the year.”

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in revenue or prices for covered commodities. Over half a million producers will receive ARC payments and over a quarter million producers will receive PLC payments for 2016 crops, starting this week and continuing over the next several months.

Payments are being made to producers who enrolled base acres of barley, corn, grain sorghum, lentils, oats, peanuts, dry peas, soybeans, wheat, and canola. In the upcoming months, payments will be announced after marketing year average prices are published by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service for the remaining covered commodities. Those include long and medium grain rice (except for temperate Japonica rice), which will be announced in November; remaining oilseeds and chickpeas, which will be announced in December; and temperate Japonica rice, which will be announced in early February 2017.  The estimated payments are before application of sequestration and other reductions and limits, including adjusted gross income limits and payment limitations.

Also, as part of an ongoing effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat, USDA will begin issuing 2017 CRP payments this week to over 375,000 Americans.

“American farmers and ranchers are among our most committed conservationists,” said Perdue. “We all share a responsibility to leave the land in better shape than we found it for the benefit of the next generation of farmers. This program helps landowners provide responsible stewardship on land that should be taken out of production.”

Signed into law by President Reagan in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation program in the United States. Thanks to voluntary participation by farmers and landowners, CRP has improved water quality, reduced soil erosion and increased habitat for endangered and threatened species. In return for enrolling in CRP, USDA, through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation, provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Participants enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years. CRP payments are made to participants who remove sensitive lands from production and plant certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat.

For more details regarding ARC and PLC programs, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc. For more information about CRP, contact your local FSA office or visit www.fsa.usda.gov/crp. To locate your local FSA office, visit https://offices.usda.gov.

USDA Designates Eight Counties in North Dakota as Primary Natural Disaster Areas with Assistance to Producers in Surrounding States

In response to a request from Brian Haugen, Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) acting State Executive Director in North Dakota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Dunn, Emmons, Grant, Logan, McIntosh, McKenzie, Mountrail and Sioux counties in North Dakota as primary natural disaster areas due to losses and damages caused by a recent drought.

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Montana qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are:

Montana
Richland, Roosevelt and Wibaux

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on July 6, 2017, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for FSA’s emergency (EM) loans, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; the Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA service centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs.

Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

Livestock Forage Disaster Program Triggered in 15 Montana Counties

(BOZEMAN) – Montana Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Bruce Nelson announced on Tuesday, July 14, that the 2015 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) triggered eligibility in 15 Montana counties based on the U.S. Drought Monitor report released on July 9, 2015.

LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who suffered grazing losses due to a qualifying drought or fire on federally managed land. Eligible producers must own or lease grazing land physically located in a county affected by a qualifying drought during the normal grazing period for the county.

The following counties met the extreme drought (D3) criteria; qualifying producers with land in these counties will be eligible for three monthly payments: Beaverhead, Deer Lodge, Flathead, Glacier, Granite, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Pondera, Powell, Ravalli, Sanders and Silver Bow.

“Montana livestock producers who own or lease grazing land or pastureland physically located in these 15 counties should contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment to begin the enrollment process,” said Nelson. “This is an important program for livestock producers affected by the drought. LFP provided almost $60 million in disaster relief to more than 4,100 Montana livestock producers for the 2012 and 2013 crop years.”

Producers must complete an application and provide supporting documentation for 2015 losses by Jan. 30, 2016.

For more information, contact your local FSA office and visit Montana FSA online at www.fsa.usda.gov/mt.

United States Department of Agriculture

Montana FSA: Livestock Producers Affected by Severe Weather Urged to Keep Good Records

WASHINGTON DC — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia, repeated his appeal to livestock producers affected by natural disasters such as the drought in the West and the unexpected winter storm in the upper Midwest to keep thorough records. This includes livestock and feed losses, and any additional expenses that are a result of losses to purchased forage or feed stuff.

“The 2014 Farm Bill provides a strong farm safety net to help ranchers during these difficult times,” said Garcia. “We’ll provide producers with information on new program requirements, updates and signups as the information becomes available. In the meantime, I urge producers to keep thorough records. We know these disasters have caused serious economic hardships for our livestock producers. We’ll do all we can to assist in their recovery.”

In addition to western drought and the early-winter snowstorms, there are a variety of disasters from floods to storms to unexpected freezes. Each event causes economic consequences for farmers and ranchers throughout the United States. FSA recommends that owners and producers record all pertinent information of natural disaster consequences, including:

  • Documentation of the number and kind of livestock that have died, supplemented if possible by photographs or video records of ownership and losses;
  • Dates of death supported by birth recordings or purchase receipts;
  • Costs of transporting livestock to safer grounds or to move animals to new pastures;
  • Feed purchases if supplies or grazing pastures are destroyed;
  • Crop records, including seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records;
  • Pictures of on-farm storage facilities that were destroyed by wind or flood waters; and
  • Evidence of damaged farm land.

 

Visit www.fsa.usda.gov or an FSA county office to learn more about FSA programs and loans. For information about USDA’s Farm Bill implementation plan, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

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For more information on the 2014 Farm Bill, visit agriculture.house.gov.