Administrator outlines emergency relief options for producers  

Producers will begin receiving applications for the Emergency Relief Program in the coming days.  

Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux tells Brownfield the agency began mailing the more than 300,000 pre-filled applications this week.

“The much-anticipated program has been touted as a new way of doing things by the agency and we’re happy to announce letters are going out to producers now that will have the information we already have on file to help them determine whether or not they’re eligible for payment under ERP,” he says. “Producers are receiving a pre-filled form in the mail from the national office this week and the coming days. We have the information we secured from our sister agency, the Risk Management Agency, to pre-fill that form using insurance information. So, if producers had an indemnified loss due to an eligible weather event, they can review that application, check a box that agrees to the requirements that are in statue, sign that, and send that back in to their local office. This is phase one of this new approach and phase two is to come later this summer and will serve those that didn’t have indemnified losses due to eligible weather events but had other losses.”

The program is designed to help ag producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms, and other qualifying natural disasters in 2020 and 2021.

“The weather-related events in the last couple of years are unique in that they came right in the middle of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which brought along a lot of economic uncertainty for our producers,” he says. “We rolled out a whole suite of programs to help mitigate that, but the nature of this particular pattern of weather-related production losses is so widespread that Congress saw fit to put together an ad hoc program for us to administer.”

The deadline to return completed Emergency Relief Program applications to the Farm Service Agency is Friday, July 22. Funding is made possible through the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, which includes $10 billion in critical emergency relief.

The agency is also implementing the first phase of the new Emergency Livestock Relief Program.

“ELRP was rolled out here in the last few weeks and we’ve already gotten a little over $580 million out to livestock producers who had drought-related impacts from 2021,” he says. “What is really unique about that program, and it’s part of a new approach that we’re taking to deliver programs, is that we used the data we had on file from their Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) application for 2021 and just issued another payment to them without them having to fill out a form. In that, we realized that we may have missed some producers who didn’t realize they were eligible. So, what we’re doing is letting producers know they can come in and file a late LFP application for 2021 losses that our county office will accept and send to the national office. The approved applications will receive and LFP payment in addition to an ELRP payment to help mitigate the impacts of last year’s drought.”

Ducheneaux says producers interested in late-filing a Livestock Forage Disaster Program application should reach out to their local FSA office as soon as possible.

Audio: FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux  

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