Extreme weather conditions like the recent “bomb cyclone” impacted farmers and ranchers in Iowa. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has disaster assistance programs available to help agricultural producers recover after natural disasters, including floods.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA) offer programs that help producers recover losses, rehabilitating farms and ranches, and managing risk.
FSA offers many programs to help producers recover from losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program and the Tree Assistance Program. Producers located in counties receiving a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses.
“FSA has a variety of disaster assistance programs to support farmers and ranchers through times of adversity,” said Amanda DeJong, State Executive Director for the FSA in Iowa. “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.”
Rehabilitating Farms and Ranches
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and other conservation programs to help producers recover and build resilience to better weather future disasters. Any practice that is needed to address an approved resource may be eligible. This could include deceased livestock disposal, or repairing a failed practice, like flood damaged fencing, from a previous EQIP contract. In some cases, farmers may be able to add a practice to existing EQIP contracts through a modification
“NRCS can be a very valuable partner to help landowners with their recovery effort,” said Kurt Simon, State Conservationist for the NRCS in Iowa. “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.”
Meanwhile, the FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.
Producers with coverage through federal crop insurance should contact their 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,” RMA Regional Director Duane Voy said. “The Approved Insurance Providers, loss adjusters and agents are experienced and well-trained in handling these types of events.”
Compensation also is available to producers who purchased coverage through FSA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2019 crops.
In addition to helping producers, USDA also offers local governments and other entities with rebuilding infrastructure and removing debris. The NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program provides assistance to local government sponsors with the cost of addressing watershed impairments or hazards like debris removal and streambank stabilization. Interested entities should contact their local NRCS conservationist.
USDA offers a disaster assistance discovery tool that walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of what USDA disaster assistance programs meet their needs. For more information on disaster assistance programs, contact your local USDA service center or farmers.gov/recover.