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USDA Announces $3 Billion Aid for Farmers Affected by 2022 Natural Disasters

USDA Announces $3 Billion Aid for Farmers Affected by 2022 Natural Disasters

By Andi Anderson

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking significant steps to aid agricultural producers affected by the natural disasters that struck in 2022. Through the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) 2022, the USDA will allocate more than $3 billion in financial assistance to eligible producers to offset the adverse effects of crop yield and value losses incurred due to qualifying disasters during the year.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator, Zach Ducheneaux, highlighted the challenges faced by agricultural families due to consecutive years of weather-related difficulties. These challenges can have a severe financial impact, making the cumulative effects particularly devastating. The USDA is committed to improving the delivery of emergency relief assistance and has streamlined the ERP 2022 delivery process to be more efficient and equitable.

The ERP 2022 program is a response to the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2023, signed into law by President Biden on December 29, 2022. This legislation provides approximately $3.7 billion in financial aid to agricultural producers affected by eligible natural disasters that occurred in calendar year 2022.

ERP 2022 offers assistance for losses to crops, trees, bushes, and vines resulting from various natural disaster events, including wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, tornadoes, winter storms, freeze, smoke exposure, qualifying drought, and related conditions.

The program introduces a two-track approach, designed to streamline the application process, reduce paperwork, and proactively include provisions for underserved producers. It also encourages producers to participate in existing risk management programs to mitigate the impacts of future severe weather events. Producers who have suffered losses can apply for assistance under one or both tracks, although duplicative benefits are avoided through payment calculations.

ERP 2022 Application Process – Track 1

ERP 2022 Track 1 is tailored for eligible crop producers who have received indemnities through federal crop insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). The basis for calculating payments in this track is the existing federal crop insurance or NAP data.

Producers indemnified for losses caused by 2022 natural disasters can apply for ERP 2022 benefits from October 31, 2023. However, the receipt of a pre-filled application does not confirm eligibility.

ERP 2022 Application Process – Track 2

Track 2, a revenue-based certification program, assists eligible producers who experienced a decrease in revenue in 2022 due to natural disasters. It uses revenue information from tax records to establish the benchmark year's revenue and provide an alternative method for revenue assessment.

Producers are not required to submit tax records unless requested by the County Committee for an FSA compliance spot check. Track 2 is particularly designed for producers whose losses were not covered by crop insurance or NAP, including those with small revenue losses (shallow loss).

Producers interested in applying for ERP 2022 Track 2 should contact their local FSA county office.

All producers must have certain required forms on file with the FSA within 60 days of the ERP 2022 deadline. The application deadline is yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date. Required forms include customer data worksheets, farm operating plans, and information for legal entities, if applicable.

In addition, producers who receive ERP 2022 payments must purchase crop insurance or NAP coverage in the next two available crop years.

The USDA's ERP 2022 aims to provide crucial financial assistance to farmers and agricultural producers who have been impacted by natural disasters, helping them recover and prepare for future uncertainties. It's a significant step in supporting the resilience of the agricultural community.

Photo Credit: pexels-karolina-grabowska

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