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USDA plans to send out Emergency Relief Program funding in June

Farmers impacted by natural disasters in 2020 and 2021 should begin receiving emergency relief payments through the Farm Service Agency’s new Emergency Relief Program to offset crop yield and value losses, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

Metz Farm pic 3.jpg
Farmers impacted by natural disasters in 2020 and 2021, including drought, are eligible for USDA funding to be rolled out soon. Photo taken Oct. 12, 2021.
Trevor Peterson / Agweek file photo
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WASHINGTON — Farmers impacted by natural disasters in 2020 and 2021 should begin receiving emergency relief payments through the Farm Service Agency’s new Emergency Relief Program to offset crop yield and value losses, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

Funding for ERP comes from the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, signed into law Sept. 30, 2021, by President Joe Biden, which includes $10 billion in assistance to agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms, and other eligible disasters experienced during calendar years 2020 and 2021. FSA recently made payments to ranchers impacted by drought and wildfire through the first phase of the Emergency Livestock Relief Program. ERP is another relief component of the act.

Counties rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having been in the severe drought category for eight weeks or having been in extreme drought or higher categories at any time quality under the drought category.

The ERP funds will be distributed in two phases, with pre-filled applications for phase one of the program be sent to producers in May 2022.

For impacted producers, existing Federal Crop Insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program data is the basis for calculating initial payments. To streamline and simplify the delivery of ERP phase one benefits, FSA will send pre-filled application forms to producers where crop insurance and NAP data are already on file. This form includes eligibility requirements, outlines the application process and provides ERP payment calculations. Producers will receive a separate application form for each program year in which an eligible loss occurred. Receipt of a pre-filled application is not confirmation that a producer is eligible to receive an ERP phase one payment.

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USDA estimates that phase one ERP benefits will reach more than 220,000 producers who received indemnities for losses covered by federal crop insurance and more than 4,000 producers who obtained NAP coverage for 2020 and 2021 crop losses.

Phase one payments will begin going out in June and will be calculated using an ERP factor based on the level of insurance coverage purchased. Full ERP payment calculation factor tables are available on the emergency relief website and in the program fact sheet .

All producers who receive ERP phase one payments, including those receiving a payment based on crop, tree, bush, or vine insurance policies, are statutorily required to purchase crop insurance, or NAP coverage where crop insurance is not available, for the next two available crop years

“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,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement. “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.”

The second phase of both ERP and ELRP programs will fill gaps and cover producers who did not participate in or receive payments through the existing programs that are being leveraged for phase one implementation. When phase one payment processing is complete, the remaining funds will be used to cover gaps identified under phase two.

More information on ERP can be found in the Notice of Funding Availability .

The Milk Loss Program and On-Farm Stored Commodity Loss Program are also funded through the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act and will be announced in a future rule in the Federal Register.

Additional USDA disaster assistance information can be found on farmers.gov, including the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet , and Farm Loan Discovery Tool . For FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Service programs, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center . For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent .

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