USDA offers farm loans for underserved, beginning farmers

U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting State Executive Director Brian Dansel reminds Idaho producers who experienced losses from natural disasters during the 2017 and 2018 calendar years that they may be eligible for assistance through the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) and Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP).

“We want to ensure that all eligible agricultural producers who experienced losses from natural disasters get the assistance they need,” said Dansel.

TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines lost due to natural disasters. Payment eligibility is triggered when a mortality loss in excess of 15 percent on a stand (adjusted for normal mortality) occurs due to natural disaster.

For 2017 and 2018 TAP losses, growers have until the later of Dec. 3, 2018, or 90 calendar days after the disaster event or date when the loss of trees becomes apparent to submit an application with supporting documentation.

ELAP provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish who have suffered losses due to an adverse weather or loss condition, including blizzards, disease, water shortages and wildfires. ELAP assistance is provided for losses not covered by other disaster assistance programs.

For 2017 and 2018 ELAP, producers must file a notice of loss and application for payment at their local FSA office by Dec. 3, 2018. for losses occurring from Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2018.

LIP provides compensation to eligible livestock owners or contract growers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality, or injury resulting in reduced value, caused by an eligible loss condition.

For 2017 and 2018 LIP, a livestock owner or contract grower must file a notice of loss the later of 30 calendar days from when the loss of livestock is first apparent, or Dec. 3, 2018. For 2017 losses, a livestock owner or contract grower must file an application for payment by Dec. 3, 2018. For 2018 losses, a livestock owner or contract grower must file an application for payment by, March 1, 2019.

“In February, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 made several changes to FSA disaster programs,” Dansel said. “This includes eliminating the $20 million fiscal year funding cap for ELAP, eliminating the $125,000 payment limitation for LIP for 2017 and future years and allowing producers to receive a payment for injured livestock that are sold for a reduced price due to an eligible event.”

As a result of these changes, starting June 4, producers were allowed to submit ELAP, LIP and LFP applications for 2017 losses if they reached the payment limitation under the previous rules. The application periods for these programs for the 2017 program year will close on Dec. 3, 2018. Producers who already submitted applications and received decisions on their applications for these years do not need to file again but can reapply if they have additional losses or their application or notice of loss was denied because it was late filed.

Contact your local FSA office for program deadlines. For more information on FSA disaster assistance programs or to find your local USDA Service Center, visit https://www.farmers.gov/.

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