Farm Progress

USDA broadens targeting of disaster assistance

More than 18,000 producers could qualify for disaster payments under Emergency Relief Program.

Jacqui Fatka

August 19, 2022

4 Min Read
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USDA has paid out $6.37 billion in Emergency Relief Program payments to a total of 261,017 applicants for losses experienced in 2020 and 2021. In continued efforts by the agency to simplify the application process, USDA announced Aug. 18 that it was sending new or updated pre-filled disaster applications to offset losses to more than 18,000 producers.

Before applying any program payment factors or eligibility criteria, it is estimated that this next installment may generate about $756 million in assistance, the agency estimates.

By breaking-down agency barriers, using existing data across USDA and pre-filled applications, USDA’s Farm Service Agency in cooperation with the Risk Management Agency has been able to expediently provide economic relief and save producers and staff over a million hours of time.

Related: New USDA disaster assistance program finds success

“We knew when we announced ERP in May that we would have additional applications to send toward the end of the summer as we received new information, and we came to know of producers who were inadvertently left out of the first data set we used,” explains USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie. “I am proud of our team's continued effort to capture additional insurance records to enable over 18,000 producers to receive new or updated pre-filled disaster applications to provide much needed financial relief.”  

FSA says it will begin mailing pre-filled applications in late August to producers who have potentially eligible losses and: 

  • Received crop insurance indemnities for qualifying 2020 and 2021 disaster events after May 2, 2022. 

  • Received crop insurance indemnities associated with Nursery, Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO), Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX), Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO) and Margin Protection (MP) policies.  

  • New primary policyholders not included in the initial insured producer Phase 1 mailing from May 25, 2022, because their claim records had not been filled. 

  • Certain 2020 prevent plant losses related to qualifying 2020 disaster events that had only been recorded in crop insurance records as related to 2019 adverse weather events and, as such, were not previously provided in applications sent earlier this year.

  • New Substantial Beneficial Interest (SBI) records, including SBIs where tax identification numbers were corrected. 

Producers are expected to receive assistance direct deposited into their bank account within three business days after they sign and return the pre-filled application to the FSA county office and the county office enters the application into the system.  

Payments to date

ERP and the previously announced ELRP are authorized by the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, which President Biden signed into law in 2021. The law provided $10 billion to help agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms and other eligible disasters experienced during calendar years 2020 and 2021.  

This emergency relief under ERP complements ERP assistance recently provided to more than 167,000 producers who had received crop insurance indemnities and Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) payments for qualifying losses. USDA has processed more than 261,000 applications for ERP, and to date, has made approximately $6.4 billion in payments to commodity and specialty crop producers to help offset eligible losses from qualifying 2020 and 2021 natural disasters. Also, earlier this year, staff processed more than 100,000 payments through the Emergency Livestock Relief Program and paid eligible producers more than $601.3 million for 2021 grazing losses within days of the program announcement. 

Corn producers have received $1.9 million in payments, followed by soybean producers receiving $1.1 million and wheat at $921 million. North Dakota producers have benefited the most with a total of over $1 billion in payments, followed by Texas with $786 million.

The second phase of both ERP and ELRP will be aimed at filling gaps and provide assistance to producers who did not participate in or receive payments through the existing risk management programs that are being leveraged for phase one implementation. USDA will keep producers and stakeholders informed as program details are made available.     

For more information on ERP and ELRP eligibility, program provisions for historically underserved producers as well as Frequently Asked Questions, producers can visit FSA’s Emergency Relief webpage. A new public-facing dashboard on the ERP webpage has information on ERP payments that can be sorted by crop type – specialty or non-specialty– specific commodities and state. FSA will update the dashboard every Monday. 

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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