USDA offers disaster assistance for producers

Scott Anderson
Special to the Bulletin
Scott Anderson

Most of the nation faced unusually cold weather, as a winter storm moved coast-to-coast. Winter storms create significant challenges and often result in catastrophic loss for agricultural producers, especially for those raising livestock, row crops and vulnerable crops like citrus.

Despite every attempt to mitigate risk, farm and ranch operations may suffer losses. USDA offers several programs to help with recovery.

Risk Management

For producers who have risk protection through Federal Crop Insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), report crop damage to your crop insurance agent or the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

Disaster Assistance

USDA also offers disaster assistance programs, which are especially important to livestock, fruit and vegetable, specialty and perennial crop producers who have fewer risk management options.

First, the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that died as a result of a qualifying natural disaster event– like these winter storms – or for loss of grazing acres, feed and forage.

For LIP and ELAP, producers will need to file a Notice of Loss for livestock and grazing or feed losses within 30 days and honeybee losses within 15 days.

Documentation

It’s critical to keep accurate records to document all losses following this devastating cold weather event. Livestock producers are advised to document beginning livestock numbers by taking time and date-stamped video or pictures prior to after the loss.

Other common documentation options include: Purchase records; production records; vaccination records;  bank or other loan documents; third-party certification. 

While we never want to have to implement disaster programs, we are here to help. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact your local USDA Service Center. All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including those that restrict in-person visits or require appointments because of the pandemic.

Brown County FSA news update

Gaylynn Covey is the new County Executive Director for the Brown County FSA office. She comes to Brown County with several years of FSA experience.

Gaylynn is looking forward to working with the producers in Brown County and hopefully will get to start meeting them as time allows.  At this moment, the office is still closed to the public, but we are still working to get everyone taken care of and we will meet you outside to sign your paperwork or we can email the forms to you.

March 15th- ARC/PLC This is to make elections and complete enrollment in 2021 Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs.

For more information on this program, producers can call the FSA office at 325/643-2573 or go to https://www.farmers.gov/arc-plc

Also, with the freeze we had from February 10th to February 19th - producers who lost livestock need to contact the FSA office and report that loss for the LIP (Livestock Indemnity Program).  You will need to have your inventory, pictures of dead livestock with date stamp and a 3rd party verification statement.  This can be from a Veterinarian or neighbor but cannot be an employee or family member.  This needs to be reported within 30 days of incident.

Dyed diesel temporarily approved for use on Texas roadways

State restrictions on the use of dyed diesel for fuel for vehicles on Texas roadways was lifted on Feb. 19 as Texans work to recover from last week’s winter storm.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar and Gov. Greg Abbott also announced state motor fuels tax on dyed diesel has been suspended.

The Comptroller’s office secured a temporary waiver from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to waive penalties and help clear the way for off-road diesel fuel to be used by on-road vehicles in all 254 counties to ensure the availability of reliable fuel sources for disaster relief.

Abbott also issued a disaster declaration last week in response to the severe weather in Texas and requested a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster designation.

President Joe Biden has declared a disaster in 108 Texas counties.

The president’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of: Anderson, Angelina, Aransas, Austin, Bastrop, Bee, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Bosque, Bowie, Brazoria, Brazos, Brown, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Cherokee, Collin, Colorado, Comal, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, DeWitt, Ellis, Erath, Falls, Fannin, Fort Bend, Freestone, Galveston, Gillespie, Gonzales, Grayson, Gregg, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Harrison, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hill, Hood, Houston, Hunt, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jim Wells, Johnson, Jones, Kaufman, Kendall, Lavaca, Liberty, Limestone, Lubbock, Madison, Matagorda, Maverick, McLennan, Medina, Milam, Montague, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Navarro, Nueces, Orange, Palo Pinto, Panola, Parker, Polk, Rockwall, Rusk, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Scurry, Shelby, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Taylor, Travis, Tom Green, Tyler, Upshur, Val Verde, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Washington, Wharton, Wichita, Williamson, Wilson, Wise and Wood.

This designation makes federal assistance, such as emergency loans, available to farmers and ranchers who have suffered losses in designated counties, as well as in counties that are contiguous to a designated county.

Texas Farm Bureau staff have been in communication with Abbott’s office, outlining the needs and concerns of farmers, ranchers and rural Texans.

For more information on USDA disaster programs and assistance following the severe winter storm, visit https://texasfarmbureau.org/winter-storm-resources.