DAVIS, California, July 23, 2018— California Farm Service Agency Executive Director Aubrey Bettencourt today reminded ranchers, farmers and producers in California that resources, including emergency, direct and guaranteed farm loans may be available to help them recover and rebuild in the wake of droughts and wildfires.

Disaster Resources Available in California Due to Drought and Wildfires

Contact:
Brooke Raffaele
Brooke.Raffaele@ca.usda.gov

DAVIS, California, July 23, 2018— California Farm Service Agency Executive Director Aubrey Bettencourt today reminded ranchers, farmers and producers in California that resources, including emergency, direct and guaranteed farm loans may be available to help them recover and rebuild in the wake of droughts and wildfires.

“Earlier this year, Congress, through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, made significant changes to disaster programs administered by the Farm Service Agency,” said Bettencourt. “For example, the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) now allows producers to receive compensation for cattle injured in a disaster. We stand ready to help any producer that needs to recover from a catastrophic event through a range of available loan programs.”

For LIP, the $125,000 individual payment limit was removed effective with the 2017 program year. FSA this spring also made an administrative change that provides that in the event of disease, local FSA county committees are authorized to accept veterinarian certifications that livestock deaths were directly related to adverse weather and unpreventable through good animal husbandry and management. The committees may then use this certification to determine eligibility for producers on a case-by-case basis for LIP. During 2017, and so far this fiscal year, USDA has made LIP payments in California totaling about $1.9 million.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 removed the $20 million annual funding limit for assistance available to producers due to losses due to disease and events including blizzards and wildfires through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP) program. Because the annual funding limit was removed, approved applications will be paid more quickly during the 2017 and subsequent program years as it is no longer necessary to wait until all claims are submitted in order to determine if payments need to be prorated.

In June, FSA began taking applications for the LIP and ELAP programs to help producers recover from natural disasters in 2017 and 2018.

In states like California, ELAP plays an important role in helping producers who could not graze livestock because of wildfire and other natural disasters. This includes producers who lost grazing days because of December 2017 wildfires, including the Thomas Fire. Producers are eligible for assistance for lost grazing days, even if the wildfire occurred before the start of the grazing period, which is October 1. Last year, and so far this fiscal year, ELAP payments for all claims in California total about $9.4 million.

In addition, the FSA Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Producers located in counties that receive a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for cost-share assistance. Compensation is also available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), which protects non-insurable crops (including native grass for grazing) against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. NAP payments in California for last year and the current fiscal year total about $4.3 million.

USDA has moved quickly to help with recovery efforts in California. For example, following the wildfires, USDA made 756 emergency, direct and guaranteed operating loans to farmers and ranchers in California totaling about $75 million.

USDA also provided funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). EQIP provides technical and financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, and forest owners. NRCS in California provided over $985,000 in EQIP funds for 23 contracts on approximately 8,856 acres to assist producers across more than a dozen counties. Thirteen types of conservation practices were funded including access roads, brush management, fencing, prescribed grazing, livestock watering systems and tree planting.

Additionally, California NRCS staff responded to over 1,000 requests for Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) related to fire recovery, helping landowners understand post-fire erosion control and what was-- and was not-- necessary to protect their property. NRCS provided technical assistance to FSA customers applying for ECP, including almost 14,000 feet of fencing.

Ranchers and livestock producers in impacted counties may be eligible for assistance through the 2018 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP). Due to catastrophic events in California last year and so far this fiscal year, USDA has provided an estimated $16 million through LFP. Earlier this year, many counties met qualifying drought ratings and may be eligible for LFP compensation for grazing losses for covered livestock on land that is in native or improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or certain crops planted specifically for grazing.

USDA recently announced that nearly $2 billion is available for eligible producers affected by 2017 hurricanes and wildfires.

Any crop, tree, bush or vine, damaged by a 2017 wildfire is eligible for the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). The program covers both the loss of the crop, tree, bush or vine as well as the loss in production. FSA will determine eligibility for wildfire losses on an individual basis, factoring in the level of insurance coverage purchased by the producer. Wildfire recovery will also include mudslides and heavy smoke resulting from the effects of wildfires.

For more information on FSA disaster assistance programs, please contact your local USDA service center or visit https://www.farmers.gov/recover/whip.

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