Resources available for flood-impacted Arkansas farmers, ranchers

Resources available for flood-impacted Arkansas farmers, ranchers

The University of Arkansas and USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service are providing information about disaster assistance program and crop insurance to help farmers and ranchers who have been adversely affected by recent heavy rains and flooding.

35-minute webinar features Arkansas Extension specialists and USDA staff members discussing both government assistance programs and crop insurance. Participants include Bobby Coats, University of Arkansas; Tony France, Arkansas Farm Service Agency; Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward; Larry McMaster of USDA’s Risk Management Agency; Hank Chaney, Faulkner County Extension; Joe Paul Stuart, Little River County Extension; and Rick Cartwright, Arkansas Extension. Webinar video (click to view): Available FSA and NRCS Disaster Assistance Programs and Crop Insurance: Prevented Planting and Failed Acreage Considerations.

USDA publication provides details on immediate disaster assistance available through the FSA. (Click to read)

USDA publication outlines the Emergency Watershed Protection program administered by NRCS. (Click to read)

Immediate Disaster Assistance

USDA Farm Service Agency offers flood-impacted Arkansas farmers and ranchers immediate disaster assistance. Farm Service Agency stands ready to assist agricultural producers slammed by recent heavy rains.

Arkansas Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farmers and ranchers across the state of federal farm program benefits that may be available to help eligible producers recover from recent heavy rains and flooding.

FSA offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist agricultural producers in their recovery efforts following floods or similar qualifying natural disasters. Available programs and loans include:

  • Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) - provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters (includes native grass for grazing). Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2015 crops.
  • Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) - offers payments to eligible producers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. Eligible losses may include those determined by FSA to have been caused by hurricanes, floods, blizzards, wildfires, tropical storms, tornados lightening, extreme heat, and extreme cold. Producers will be required to provide verifiable documentation of death losses resulting from an eligible adverse weather event and must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is apparent.
  • Tree Assistance Program (TAP) – provides assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers for qualifying tree, shrub and vine losses due to natural disaster. 
  • Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) - provides emergency relief for losses due to feed or water shortages, disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, which are not adequately addressed by other disaster programs. ELAP covers physically damaged or destroyed livestock feed that was purchased or mechanically harvested forage or feedstuffs intended for use as feed for the producer's eligible livestock. In order to be considered eligible, harvested forage must be baled; forage that is only cut, raked or windrowed is not eligible. Producers must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss is apparent.

ELAP also covers up to 150 lost grazing days in instances when a producer has been forced to remove livestock from a grazing pasture due to floodwaters.

For beekeepers, ELAP covers beehive losses (the physical structure) in instances where the hive has been destroyed by a natural disaster including flooding, high winds and tornadoes.

  • Emergency Loan Program – Available to producers with agriculture operations located in a county under a primary or contiguous Secretarial Disaster designation. These low interest loans help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding.
  • Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) - provides emergency funding for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate land severely damaged by natural disasters; includes fence loss.
  • HayNet - is an Internet-based Hay and Grazing Net Ad Service allowing farmers and ranchers to share 'Need Hay' ads and 'Have Hay' ads online. Farmers also can use another feature to post advertisements for grazing land, specifically ads announcing the availability of grazing land or ads requesting a need for land to graze. www.fsa.usda.gov/haynet.

To establish or retain FSA program eligibility, farmers and ranchers must report prevented planting and failed acres (crops and grasses). Prevented planting acreage must be reported on form FSA-576, Notice of Loss, no later than 15 calendar days after the final planting date as established by FSA and Risk Management Agency (RMA).

For more information on disaster assistance programs and loans visit www.fsa.usda.gov/ or contact your local FSA Office. To find your local FSA county office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

Producers Must Report Prevented Planting and Failed Acres

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers to report prevented planting and failed acres in order to establish or retain FSA program eligibility.

Producers must report crop acreage they intended to plant, but due to natural disaster, were prevented from planting.  Prevented planting acreage must be reported on form FSA-576, Notice of Loss, no later than 15 calendar days after the final planting date as established by FSA and Risk Management Agency (RMA).

According to Linda Newkirk, State Executive Director, the final planting date for soybeans is June 15 for soybeans (not following another crop) and June 25 for soybeans (following another crop). 

If a producer is unable to report the prevented planting acreage within the 15 calendar days following the final planting date, a late-filed report can be submitted.  Late-filed reports will only be accepted if FSA conducts a farm visit to assess the eligible disaster condition that prevented the crop from being planted.  A measurement service fee will be charged.

Additionally, producers with failed acres should also use form FSA-576, Notice of Loss, to report failed acres.

For losses on crops covered by the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) and crop insurance, producers must file a Notice of Loss within 15 days of the occurrence of the disaster or when losses become apparent.  Producers must timely file a Notice of Loss for failed acres on all crops including grasses.

Please contact your local County FSA Office to schedule an appointment to file a Notice of Loss. To find your local FSA office visit http://offices.usda.gov.

NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) admin­isters the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, which responds to emergencies created by natural disasters. It is not necessary for a na­tional emergency to be declared for an area to be eligible for assistance.

The EWP Program is a recovery effort aimed at relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms, and other natural occurrences. All projects undertaken, with the exception of the purchase of floodplain ease­ments, must have a project sponsor. NRCS may bear up to 75 percent of the construction cost of emergency measures (90 percent within limited-resource areas as identified by the U.S. Census data). The remaining costs must come from local sources and can be in the form of cash or in-kind services. Funding for the program is provided through congressional appropriations.

Type of Work Authorized

EWP is designed for installation of recovery measures to safeguard lives and property as a result of a natural disaster. Threats that the EWP Program addresses are termed watershed impair­ments. These include, but are not limited to:

• debris-clogged stream channels,

• undermined and unstable streambanks,

• jeopardized water control structures and public infrastructures,

The program can also include purchasing flood­plain easements. These easements restore, protect, maintain, and enhance the functions and values of the floodplain, including associated wetlands and riparian areas. They also conserve natural values including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention and ground water recharge, as well as safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the results of erosion.

EWP work is not limited to any one set of prescribed measures. NRCS completes a Dam­age Survey Report which provides a case-by-case investigation of the work necessary to repair or protect a site. NRCS will only provide funding for work that is necessary to reduce applicable threats.

Should sponsors want to increase the level of protection, the sponsor will be responsible for paying 100 percent of the costs of the upgrade and additional work.

Criteria for Assistance

All EWP work must reduce threat to life and property; be economically, environmentally, and socially defensible; and be sound from a technical standpoint.

Eligibility

Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance, but must be represented by a project sponsor. Sponsors include legal subdivisions of the State, such as a city, county, general improve­ment district, conservation district, or any Native American tribe or tribal organization as defined in Section 4 of the Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.

Sponsor’s Obligations

Sponsors are responsible for:

• providing land rights to do repair work,

• securing the necessary permits,

• furnishing the local cost-share, and

• performing any necessary operation and main­tenance.

How Do I Get Assistance?

• Public and private landowners - if your land has suffered severe damage that may qualify for the EWP Program, you should contact your local authorities (city or county government, flood and water control district, or local conservation dis­trict) and request assistance.

• Project sponsors - contact the NRCS office at your local USDA Service Center or call (501) 301-3100.

For more information, contact your local USDA Service Center or: www.ar.nrcs.usda.gov/pro­grams/ewp.

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