With 14 drought-stricken Minnesota counties placed under USDA’s primary agricultural disaster designation, Minnesota leadership has waived trucking regulations to support Minnesota livestock producers struggling to find hay and forages.
Gov. Tim Walz waived the trucking regulations last week, and the moratorium remains in effect for 30 days. Walz, state officials and ag leaders have been meeting regularly to discuss the drought. Conditions across Minnesota have resulted in the decrease of approximately 10,000 acres of harvestable hay, requiring farmers and livestock producers to travel farther distances to obtain hay and forage to needed to feed their livestock.
Under the USDA disaster designation, farmers in 21 counties contiguous to the named 14 also qualify for benefits. The USDA’s expanded disaster designation makes farm operators in primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency. Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of the USDA’s declaration to apply for this assistance, which includes emergency loans. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.
Additional USDA disaster assistance is available:
USDA disaster assistance for drought recovery. Producers who experience livestock deaths and feed losses due to natural disasters may be eligible for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). This program also provides eligible producers with compensation for expenses associated with transporting water to livestock physically located in a county that is designated as level “D3 Drought — Extreme” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. For ELAP, producers will need to file a notice of livestock loss within 30 days, and honeybee losses within 15 days, of the loss becoming apparent.
Livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to drought in 2021 may be eligible for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program. A map of eligible counties for LFP drought may be found on the FSA website.
Additionally, emergency haying and grazing of CRP acres may be authorized (outside of the primary nesting season) to provide relief to livestock producers in areas affected by a severe drought or similar natural disaster. Emergency haying and grazing status is reviewed and authorized each Thursday using the U.S. Drought Monitor. Counties are approved for emergency haying and grazing due to drought conditions on a county by county basis, when a county is designated as level “D2 Drought — Severe” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers may be eligible for cost-share assistance through the Tree Assistance Program to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes or vines lost during the drought. This complements the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NCDAP) or crop insurance coverage, which covers the crop, but not the plants or trees in all cases. For TAP, a program application must be filed within 90 days.
FSA loans. FSA also offers a variety of direct and guaranteed loans, including operating and emergency loans, to producers unable to secure commercial financing. Producers in counties with a primary or contiguous disaster designation may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Loans can help producers replace essential property; purchase inputs like livestock, equipment, feed and seed; cover family living expenses; or refinance farm-related debts and other needs.
Risk management. Producers who have risk protection through Federal Crop Insurance or FSA’s NCDAP should report crop damage to their crop insurance agent or FSA office, respectively. If they have crop insurance, producers should report crop damage to their agent within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days.
Additionally, Risk Management Agency authorized emergency procedures earlier this month to help agricultural producers impacted by extreme drought conditions. Emergency procedures allow insurance companies to accept delayed notices of loss in certain situations, streamline paperwork and reduce the number of required representative samples when damage is consistent. Read more in RMA’s July 13, 2021 news release.
Conservation. FSA offers the Emergency Conservation Program and Emergency Forest Restoration Program to assist landowners and forest stewards with financial and technical assistance to restore fencing, damaged farmland or forests.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service also offers programs to help in the recovery process. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program can help producers plan and implement conservation practices on farms, ranches and in working forests impacted by natural disasters. Practices include brush management, livestock watering facilities, prescribed grazing, etc.
Long-term damage from drought includes forage production loss in pastures and fields, and increased wind erosion on crop fields not protected with soil health practices.
On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help producers and landowners determine program or loan options. For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent. For FSA and NRCS programs, they should contact their local USDA Service Center.