In addition to the March storms that brought significant damages, another storm hit District 3 this last week. There are programs available through USDA and some counties are offering relief. Other programs will require additional lobbying and won’t likely be available until 2024. As additional questions are coming in on potential funding we thought it would be good to have a quick update on our activities and put out resources that we published earlier this year.
If your property, orchard or crop has been impacted there are various local, state and federal disaster assistance programs that may be available to you. Funding for disaster relief has to be approved by Congress, and no funding has been approved for 2023 to date. There is currently a stalemate in Congress on keeping the government open on October 1st as well as major decisions on Ukraine and disaster relief that are focal points for Congress. Programs are currently available for 2022 declared disasters and multiple agricultural groups, especially those in California are lobbying for federal assistance for 2023.
In preparation for any potential funding, documentation is key. Take pictures of damages and get estimates of repairs. Consult with your crop insurance agent and property insurance agent as soon as possible. Most counties are documenting losses that occur and reporting is essential for them to give State and Federal officials an accurate damage assessment for potential funding.
CCM, along with others, will continue to advocate for disaster relief to affected citrus growers as well as bring information to growers on the availability of programs. The CCM Marketing Committee is coordinating on the impacts related to thrips damage and developing strategies to work with growers to maximize returns depending on the extent of damage in a field and the availability of crop insurance for severely damaged fields. Our Pest and Disease Task Force has also been communicating relative to the damages, analyzing pest management strategies, and tracking chemicals that may be able to be expedited. We’ll continue to look at all available options to the industry to bring resources to growers.
Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist farmers and ranchers in recovery efforts following recent heavy rains and flooding. Available programs that may help growers include:
- Emergency Loan Programprovides loans to help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding, other natural disasters, or quarantine by animal quarantine laws or imposed by the Secretary under the Plant Protection Act.
- Disaster Set-Aside Programprovides producers who have existing direct loans with FSA who are unable to make the scheduled payments to move up to one full year’s payment to the end of the loan. Assistance is available in counties, or contiguous counties, who have been designated as emergencies by the President, Secretary or FSA Administrator.
- Emergency Conservation Program(ECP) helps farmers and ranchers repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters.
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program(EQIP) – provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements on the land including financial assistance to repair and prevent the excessive soil erosion caused or impacted by natural disasters.
- Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program(NAP) pays covered producers of covered non insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters (includes native grass for grazing). Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for the current crop year.
- Tree Assistance Program(TAP) provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes, and vines damaged by natural disasters.
To establish or retain FSA program eligibility, you must report prevented planting and failed acres (crops and grasses). Prevented planting acreage must be reported on form FSA-576, Notice of Loss, no later than 15 calendar days after the final planting date as established by FSA and Risk Management Agency (RMA).
We also want to stress the importance of recordkeeping following damage created by natural disasters. Always take photos or videos of any losses or damage. Other common documentation options include:
- Purchase records
- Production records
- Bank or other loan documents
- Third-party verification such as agronomist, PCA, etc.
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