(FDACS/Tallahassee, FL/January 28, 2022) — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is sharing information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on federal disaster assistance for producers facing inclement weather as Florida is expected to see record cold temperatures this weekend.
A cold front moving across the state is expected to bring record low temperatures, triggering a hazardous weather warning from the National Weather Service. Following devastating cold weather events, it is critical that agricultural producers keep accurate records documenting losses and damages. Producers should contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to file a Notice of Loss or to learn more about available programs and required documentation.
“I encourage all producers to prepare as best you can ahead of the anticipated cold front, including being aware of potential disaster assistance programs and their requirements,” said Commissioner Fried. “Florida farmers are resilient in the face of many challenges, from a global pandemic to unfair foreign trade to extreme weather events, but we are thankful for the resources shared by our federal partners should losses occur.”
USDA Offers Disaster Assistance for Producers Facing Inclement Weather:
Risk Management: Producers who have risk protection through Federal Crop Insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) should report crop damage to their crop insurance agent or the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.
Producers with crop insurance should contact their agency within 72 hours of discovering damage and be sure to follow up in writing within 15 days. If you have NAP coverage, file a Notice of Loss (also called Form CCC-576) within 15 days of loss becoming apparent, except for hand-harvested crops, which should be reported within 72 hours.
FSA Disaster Assistance: The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry, and other animals that died as a result of a qualifying natural disaster event or for loss of grazing acres, feed, and forage. And, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) provides assistance to producers of grazed forage crop acres that have suffered crop loss due to a qualifying drought. Livestock producers suffering the impacts of drought can also request Emergency Haying and Grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres. The Tree Assistance Program (TAP) provides cost share assistance to rehabilitate and replant tree, vines or shrubs loss experienced by orchards and nurseries. This complements NAP or crop insurance coverage, which cover the crop but not the plants or trees in all cases.
For LIP and ELAP, producers will need to file a Notice of Loss for livestock and grazing or feed losses within 30 days and honeybee losses within 15 days. For TAP, producers and landowners will need to file a program application within 90 days.
FSA also has a variety of loans available including emergency loans that are triggered by disaster declarations and operating loans that can assist producers with credit needs. These loan can be used to replace essential property, purchase inputs like livestock, equipment, feed and seed, or refinance farm-related debts, and other needs.
Additional details – including payment calculations – can be found on USDA’s NAP, ELAP, LIP, and TAP fact sheets. On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help producers determine program or loan options.
Documentation: It’s critical to keep accurate records to document all losses following this devastating cold weather event. Livestock producers are advised to document beginning livestock numbers by taking time and date-stamped video or pictures prior to after the loss. Other common documentation options include purchase records, production records, vaccination records, bank or other loan documents, and third-party certification.
NRCS Assistance: USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. Assistance may also be available for emergency animal mortality disposal from natural disasters and other causes.