September 11, 2017 - Hurricane Harvey made an impact on the lives of many in Texas, including our farmers and ranchers. As producers move into recovery mode, and assess damages and losses resulting from the hurricane and subsequent flooding, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has programs available to assist in disaster recovery.
Leaders of the USDA Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) mission area in Texas are committed to helping producers with the recovery process. FPAC includes USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency.
“FSA has a variety of disaster assistance programs to support farmers and ranchers through times of adversity,” said Erasmo “Eddie” Trevino, acting state executive director for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Texas. “Once you are able to evaluate your losses, it is important to contact your local FSA office to report all damages and losses and learn more about how we can assist.”
FSA administers many safety-net programs to help producers recover from eligible losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) and the Tree Assistance Program. The FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.
Producers located in counties that received a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Compensation also is available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. USDA encourages farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn what documents can help the local office expedite assistance, such as farm records, receipts and pictures of damages or losses.
“NRCS can be a very valuable partner to help landowners with their recovery effort,” said Salvador Salinas, State Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas. “Our staff will work one-on-one with landowners to make assessments of the damages and develop approaches that focus on effective recovery of the land.”
A special Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) sign up is open now through September 22, 2017, to immediately assist producers in the proper disposal of livestock carcasses on their farm or ranch. NRCS is also now accepting EQIP applications from producers in the disaster declared counties to apply conservation practices damaged or destroyed due to Harvey, with a deadline of October 6, 2017 to be considered for funding.
Additional NRCS programs include the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program, which provides assistance to local government sponsors with the cost of addressing watershed impairments or hazards like debris removal and streambank stabilization. The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) can provide longer term recovery. NRCS staff can provide landowners with technical assistance and conservation planning to assist in short-term and long-term recovery. Landowners should contact NRCS for specific program application deadlines.
USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) Regional Office Director Francie Tolle said producers with coverage through the RMA administered federal crop insurance program should contact their crop insurance agent for issues regarding filing claims. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses.
“Producers should report crop damage within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days,” Tolle said. “The Approved Insurance Providers, loss adjusters and agents are experienced and well-trained in handling these types of events.”
For more information on all USDA disaster assistance programs, contact your local USDA Service Center (http://offices.usda.gov) or online at www.usda.gov. For RMA assistance, please contact your local crop insurance agent. For all USDA Hurricane Harvey recovery resources, please visit https://www.usda.gov/topics/disaster/storms