WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the availability of assistance for agricultural producers, rural communities, and residents affected by recent wildfires.
As of yesterday, wildfires have burned nearly 6.9 million acres across 11 states. More than 31,000 personnel from the local, state, and federal levels are working to contain 61 large fires. The USDA Forest Service has more than 7,800 personnel committed to firefighting efforts along with airtankers, helicopters, and other air and ground firefighting resources.
Helping producers weather financial impacts of disasters
When major disasters strike, USDA has an emergency loan program that provides eligible farmers low-interest loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. This program is triggered when a natural disaster is designated by the Secretary of Agriculture or a natural disaster or emergency is declared by the President under the Stafford Act. USDA also offers additional programs tailored to the needs of specific agricultural sectors to help producers weather the financial impacts of major disasters and rebuild their operations.
Livestock owners and contract growers who experience above normal livestock deaths due to specific weather events may qualify for assistance under USDA’s Livestock Indemnity Program.
Livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to a qualifying fire on federally-managed land during the normal grazing period for a county may qualify for help through USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program. Producers of non-insurable crops who suffer crop losses, lower yields, or are prevented from planting agricultural commodities may be eligible for assistance under USDA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
Helping operations recover after disasters
USDA can provide financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. Assistance may also be available for emergency animal mortality disposal from natural disasters.
Farmers and ranchers needing to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters can apply for assistance through USDA’s Emergency Conservation Program. USDA also has assistance available for eligible private forest landowners who need to restore forestland damaged by natural disasters through the Emergency Forest Restoration Program. USDA’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program can help relieve imminent threats to life and property caused by fires that impair a watershed. Orchardists and nursery tree growers may be eligible for assistance through USDA’s Tree Assistance Program to help replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes, and vines damaged by natural disasters.
Producers with coverage through federal crop insurance programs administered by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) should contact their crop insurance agent about filing claims. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses. Producers should report crop damage within 72 hours of discovering damage and follow up in writing within 15 days. The Approved Insurance Providers (AIP), loss adjusters, and agents are experienced and well trained in handling these types of events. As part of its commitment to delivering excellent customer service, RMA is working closely with AIPs that sell and service crop insurance policies to ensure enough loss adjusters will be available to process claims in the affected areas as quickly as possible. Visit the RMA website for more details.
Helping with the long-term recovery of rural communities
USDA Rural Development has more than 50 programs available to help rural and Tribal communities rebuild or repair homes, businesses, and infrastructure, including drinking water and waste systems, electric infrastructure, and essential community facilities such as public safety buildings, health care centers and hospitals, and educational facilities. Visit the USDA Rural Development website for more information on specific programs.
To learn more about USDA disaster preparedness and response, visit USDA’s disaster resources website. For more information on USDA disaster assistance programs, contact your local USDA Service Center.