MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) – Following a windstorm, wildfires and severe drought, the USDA has offered assistance to help Kansas farmers rebuild.
Because Kansas’s agricultural operations have been severely affected by recent wildfires, a wind storm and an ongoing severe drought, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it has set up technical and financial assistance for the farmers and animal producers on their way to recovery.
The USDA said affected producers should contact their local USDA Service Center to report losses and learn more about options to help them recover from crop losses and damage, land, infrastructure, and livestock.
“Agricultural production is vital to the Kansas economy, and the USDA stands ready to assist in recovery from these wildfires and severe drought conditions,” said Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC). “I assure you that USDA employees are working diligently to deliver FPAC’s extensive portfolio of disaster relief programs and services to all affected agricultural producers.”
The Department said those who experience animal deaths or sell injured animals at low prices as a result of fires may be eligible for the Livestock Indemnity Program.
Meanwhile, the USDA said for both wildfire and drought recovery, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program provides those eligible with assistance for feed loss, water hauling and transportation costs. of feed. For ELAP, it said producers are required to file a notice of loss within 30 days and honeybee losses within 15 days.
Qualified orchardists and nursery tree growers may be eligible for cost-share assistance through the Tree Assistance Program to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, shrubs or vines lost during the drought. It said the program fits into the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assitance Program or crop insurance coverage, which covers crops but not plants or trees in all cases. For TAP, it said the program application needs to be filled out within 90 days.
“Once you have safely assessed the impact of wildfire or drought on your operation, be sure to contact your local FSA office to report all damages and losses to crop, livestock and farm infrastructure,” Charles said ( Chuck) Pettijohn, Acting State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Kansas. “To expedite FSA disaster assistance, you will likely need to provide documents, such as farm records, herd inventory, receipts and photos of injuries or losses”
The Department said the FSA also offers a variety of direct and guaranteed farm loans, which include operational and emergency farm loans, to producers who cannot obtain commercial financing. Producers in counties with a major disaster assignment may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help recover from production and physical losses. It said the loans could help replace valuable assets, purchase inputs such as pets, equipment, feed and seeds, cover family living expenses or refinance debts related to farms and other needs.
In addition to making a loan, the Department offers loan servicing options for those who are unable to make scheduled USDA farm loan repayments due to factors beyond their control.
Those with risk protection through the FSA’s Federal Crop Insurance or NAP must report the damage to their crop insurance agent or FSA office. If producers have crop insurance they must report damage within 72 hours of discovery and follow-up in writing within 15 days and for crops covered by the NAP, a notice of loss is must be served within 15 days of the loss being detected, except for hand- harvests, which must be reported within 72 hours.
“USDA has crop insurance and other risk management options to help producers manage risk because we don’t know what nature has in store for the future,” said Collin Olsen, Director of the Regional Office of the RMA covering Kansas. “Approved Insurance Providers, loss adjusters and agents are experienced and well trained in handling these types of events.”
Outside of the main nesting season, the USDA said emergency and non-emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program acres could be allowed to provide assistance to producers in areas affected by severe drought. or similar natural disasters. Those interested in haying or herding CRP acres should contact their county FSA office to see if they are eligible.
The Emergency Conservation Program and Emergency Forest Restoration Program can assist landowners and forest stewards with financial and technical assistance to restore fencing, damaged farmland or forests. Additionally, it supports emergency precautionary measures during severe drought.
The Department said its Natural Resource Conservation Service is always available to assist with technical assistance in the recovery process by helping producers plan and implement conservation practices on farms, ranches and working forest affected by the disaster.
Kansas producers can obtain technical and financial assistance to assist in the proper disposal of dead animals using a skill called Animal Mortality Management through an emergency effort through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. In addition, it said NRCS will look for opportunities to work with landowners to re-apply conservation practices established by EQIP that have failed due to wildfires and droughts.
The USDA said producers who have experienced animal losses are encouraged to file an EQIP application with their local NRCS Field Office. the program allows farmers and ranchers to apply for Emergency Animal Mortality Management which can help with cremation or burial costs.
“The USDA can be a very important partner to help landowners with their recovery and resilience efforts,” said Karen Woodrich, NRCS State Conservationist in Kansas. “Our staff will work individually with landowners to make damage assessments and develop strategies focused on effective land reclamation.”
The Department said additional NRCS programs include the Emergency Watershed Protection program, which provides cost assistance in addressing watershed disabilities or hazards such as damaged mountain areas removed by vegetation by wildfire, removal of debris and stabilization of streambank in local governments.
Eligible for EWP include cities, counties, towns or any federally recognized tribe or tribal organization. Sponsors are required to submit a formal request to the state conservationist for assistance within 60 days after the natural disaster or 60 days from the date when access to the sites became available.
“EWP provides immediate assistance to communities to reduce the potential hazards to life and property resulting from fires and in particular the severe erosion and flooding that can occur after a fire,” Woodrich said. “We can work with a local sponsor to help a damaged watershed so that lives and property are protected while preventing further destruction in the community.”
In addition to the EWP, the USDA said Conservation Technical Assitance is another service that NRCS can provide following a severe fire. NRCS technical assistance can assist victims in planning cost -effective post -fire restoration skills.
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