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USDA disaster aid aimed at farmers who fell through the cracks

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Nov. 15 announced the plans for additional emergency relief and pandemic assistance. Full details have yet to be announced but the plans are the Phase Two of the Emergency Relief Program and the Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program.

A grain bin flattened by a storm
A grain bin lays flattened on May 19, 2022, near Alberta in west-central Minnesota on the Joe Stroman farm. It was hit by a storm on May 12. Damage from these storms may be included in new federal disaster aid.
Jeff Beach / Agweek
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to roll out two ways to help producers who fell through the cracks of other recent disaster and pandemic assistance programs.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Nov. 15 announced the plans for additional emergency relief and pandemic assistance. Full details have yet to be announced but the plans are:

  •   Emergency Relief Program Phase Two :  In general, ERP Phase Two payments are expected to be based on the difference in farm revenue between a typical year of revenue and the disaster year. The losses could be due to wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms, freeze (including a polar vortex), smoke exposure, excessive moisture and qualifying droughts in 2020 and 2021.   USDA  says it is working to avoid windfalls or duplicative payments. 
  • Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program : PARP will assist producers who experienced revenue decreases in calendar year 2020 compared to 2018 or 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will help address gaps in previous pandemic assistance, which was targeted at price loss or lack of market access, rather than overall revenue losses.    
Tom Vilsack

“No matter how well we design these targeted efforts, we often find that some producers fall through the cracks or were harmed more severely than their neighbors,” Vilsack said in a news release. “These new programs apply a holistic approach to emergency assistance — an approach not focused on any one disaster event or commodity but rather one focused on filling gaps in assistance for agricultural producers who have, over the past few years, suffered losses from natural disasters and the pandemic.”  

In announcing the programs, USDA said its Farm Service Agency is looking for ways to simplify the process for both staff and producers and reduce the amount of paperwork burden.

More on Emergency Relief

Phase Two builds on ERP Phase One, which was rolled out in May 2022 and has since paid more than $7.1 billion for crop losses that were covered by federal crop insurance or Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. 

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ERP Phase Two includes producers who suffered losses but may not have received program benefits in Phase One. 

Losses could be in both traditional insurable commodities and specialty crops.

Details will be available when the rule is published later this year.  

There is also still time to apply for ERP Phase One. Farmers have until Dec. 16, 2022, to contact FSA at their local USDA Service Center about the program.

More on Pandemic Assistance Revenue

To be eligible for PARP, an agricultural producer must have been in the business of farming during at least part of 2020 and had a certain threshold decrease in allowable gross revenue for 2020 compared to 2018 or 2019.

Exact details on the calculations and eligibility will be available when the forthcoming rule is published.

How to prepare

ERP Phase Two and PARP will use revenue information that is readily available from most tax records. FSA encourages producers to have their tax documents from the past few years and supporting materials ready. Producers will need similar documentation to what was needed for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Phase Two, where a producer could use 2018 or 2019 as the benchmark year relative to the disaster year.

In the coming weeks, USDA will provide additional information on how to apply for assistance through ERP Phase Two and PARP. In the meantime, producers are encouraged to begin gathering supporting documentation including:

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  • Schedule F (Form 1040); and 
  • Profit or Loss from Farming or similar tax documents for tax years 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 for ERP and for calendar years 2018, 2019 and 2020 for PARP.   

Producers should have on file these forms: 

  • Form AD-2047, Customer Data Worksheet (as applicable to the program participant);  
  • Form CCC-902, Farm Operating Plan for an individual or legal entity; 
  • Form CCC-901, Member Information for Legal Entities (if applicable); and  
  • Form AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) Certification.  

USDA says most producers, especially those who have previously participated in FSA programs, will likely have these required forms on file. However, those who are uncertain or want to confirm should contact FSA at their local USDA Service Center .

In addition to those forms, underserved producers are encouraged to register their status with FSA, using Form CCC-860, Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, Beginning and Veteran Farmer or Rancher Certification, as certain existing permanent and ad-hoc disaster programs provide increased benefits or reduced fees and premiums.

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