USDA Offers Disaster Assistance to Farmers, Ranchers Impacted by Wildfires

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has assistance available to help Nebraska farmers and ranchers recover from recent wildfires. Producers impacted by these events should contact their local USDA Service Center to report losses and learn more about program options available to assist in their recovery from crop, land, infrastructure and livestock losses and damages.

“When you are at a time and place where you can safely assess the wildfire impact on your operation, be sure to contact our office to report all crop, livestock and farm infrastructure damages and losses,” said Joni Johnson, Jefferson County FSA Executive Director. “We can review potential program assistance with you.”

Producers who experience livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality due to wildfires may be eligible for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). To participate in LIP, producers will be required to provide verifiable documentation of death losses resulting from the eligible adverse event and must submit a notice of loss to the FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is apparent.

The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides eligible producers with compensation for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or loss conditions as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture. For wildfire-impacted areas, ELAP eligible losses include grazing losses, purchased or produced feed losses, additional cost of purchasing feed above normal quantities and cost for transporting feed directly to livestock (equipment rental). For ELAP, producers will need to file a notice of loss within 30 days. Honeybee losses also may be covered under this program; for those losses producers will need to file a notice of loss within 15 days.

In addition to these programs, eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers may be eligible for cost-share assistance through the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes or vines lost during the wildfires. Producers with FSA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage should contact the county FSA office as soon as possible to report losses as there are specific loss reporting deadlines, depending on the covered crop.

FSA also offers a variety of direct and guaranteed farm loans, including operating and in some cases emergency farm loans, to producers unable to secure commercial financing. Loans can help producers replace essential property, purchase inputs like livestock, equipment, feed and seed, cover family living expenses or refinance farm-related debts and other needs. Additionally, FSA has a variety of loan servicing options available for borrowers who are unable to make scheduled payments on their farm loan debt to FSA because of reasons beyond their control.

Producers impacted by the recent wildfires are encouraged to contact the Fairbury USDA Service Center for additional program information. Call (402) 729-6134, ext. 2 to reach the Jefferson County Farm Service Agency office.

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