The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created an online tool to help the livestock industry document and estimate payments to cover feed transportation costs caused by drought.

Those costs are covered by the federal Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program or ELAP. USDA updated the program this year to include feed transportation costs as well as lowered the threshold for when assistance for water hauling expenses is available. USDA’s Farm Service Agency will begin taking applications this fall.

The new ELAP Feed Transportation Producer Tool is a Microsoft Excel workbook that enables producers to input information specific to their operation to determine an estimated payment. Final payments may vary depending on eligibility.

To use the tool, you will need:

  • Number of truckloads for this year.
  • Mileage per truckload this year.
  • Share of feed cost this year (if splitting loads).
  • Number of truckloads you normally haul.
  • Normal mileage per truckload.
  • Share of normal feed cost
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The tool requires Microsoft Excel, and a tutorial video is available at fsa.usda.gov/elap.

Updates to ELAP

ELAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, adverse weather or other conditions as determined by the secretary of agriculture. ELAP now covers feed transportation costs where grazing and hay resources have been depleted, which has been the case in 2021 in much of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. This includes places where:

Drought intensity is D2 for eight consecutive weeks as indicated by the U.S. Drought Monitor; or drought intensity is D3 or greater.

The tool calculates the estimated payment for feed transportation assistance, but it is not an application. Once FSA begins accepting applications later this fall for feed transportation assistance, producers should contact their FSA county office to apply. To simplify the application process, producers can print or email payment estimates generated by this tool for submission to FSA. The deadline to apply for ELAP, including feed transportation costs, for 2021 is Jan. 31, 2022.

ELAP already covers above normal costs for hauling water to livestock in areas where drought intensity is D3 or greater on the drought monitor. FSA is also updating ELAP to also cover water hauling in areas experiencing D2 for eight consecutive weeks, lowering the threshold for this assistance to be available. Program benefits are retroactive for 2021.

Payment calculations

USDA will reimburse those eligible 60% of feed transportation costs above what would have been incurred in a normal year. Producers qualifying as underserved (socially disadvantaged, limited resource, beginning or military veteran) will be reimbursed for 90% of the feed transportation cost above what would have been incurred in a normal year.

USDA uses a national cost formula to determine reimbursement costs that will not include the first 25 miles and distances exceeding 1,000 transportation miles. The calculation will also exclude the normal cost to transport hay or feed if the producer normally purchases some feed. For 2021, the initial cost formula of $6.60 per mile will be used (before the percentage is applied).

Eligibility

To be eligible for ELAP assistance, livestock must be intended for grazing and producers must have incurred feed transportation costs during 2021. Although producers will self-certify losses and expenses, they are encouraged to maintain good records and retain receipts and related documentation if the local FSA County Committee requests a review.

USDA offers a comprehensive portfolio of disaster assistance programs on farmers.gov. For details, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center.