USDA to provide assistance for milk production lost to H5N1

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA has expanded the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish, or ELAP Program to cover milk losses caused by the H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus. “It does dramatically limit milk production for a period of time which obviously causes economic loss for producers with affected premises, and for that reason, we’ve chosen to support farmers with the ELAP program to offset those losses.”

Vilsack says farmers will receive payments of 90% of lost production retroactive to when the herd tested positive for H5N1 in March based on the national all milk price.  He says the updated ELAP rules will be published in the Federal Register Monday, and at that point, producers can apply for the funding at their Farm Service Agency office. “We are utilizing resources from the Commodity Credit Corporation to be able to pay for this as well as many of the other steps we’ve taken, not only for dairy but also for poultry as well. We just recently received authority for over 800 million dollars under the CCC program to provide resources.”

Vilsack says coverage will be available on a per-cow basis for up to four weeks per affected cow.

The Secretary says when something is unexpected like H5N1 and it threatens the economic viability of the producers, USDA looks for opportunities to revisit existing programs and modify them to try and provide the financial support that is needed.

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