USDA this week opened enrollment for its Livestock Disaster Assistance Program and Emergency Assistance programs, available for producers who suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires.
The programs, separately the Livestock Forage Disaster Program and the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, were authorized by the 2014 farm bill.
Kristina Butts, executive director of government affairs for NCBA, offers tips for producers looking to sign up for the programs, which are administered through the USDA Farm Service Agency.
Butts said producers should make sure they know for what years they are looking to claim disaster assistance, and should separate documentation according to year.
"The programs right now will actually provide assistance for years 2012, 2013, and we are already half-way through the 2014 year," Butts says.
Some of the events that will be covered under the program include the ongoing drought, Dakotas blizzards and wildfires over the last few years – any type of natural disaster, Butts says. She adds that FSA will likely need ownership papers, invoices for various services and feed bills to process claims.
It might be worth a call to a local FSA office before making a trip, Butts says. That will confirm qualifications for the programs and what documentation is needed.
The timeline for filing does close in roughly three to nine months, Butts says, but it depends on what year the disaster in question occurred.
Butts says the NCBA has already thanked legislators who helped ensure the programs would be authorized and the USDA for providing additional trained staff at FSA offices to handle the influx of claims.
"The message we heard last week from [FSA] headquarters when we were in town is that they are here to help…they realize that since we haven't had disaster assistance since 2011 that there's going to be a lot of questions along the way."
For more information, visit the www.fsa.usda.gov website.