WASHINGTON, August 25, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of assistance for agricultural producers affected by the recent wildfires to help eligible farmers and ranchers reestablish their operations.
“USDA is ready to offer all the assistance we can to the affected farmers, ranchers and communities to help them recover,” said Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “As a farmer myself, I’m proud to be able to deliver on our most important mission to support them in their time of need.”
As of today, wildfires have burned more than 2 million acres, mostly in the western states. Nearly 28,000 personnel from the local, state and federal levels are responding to 157 separate incidents, 95 of which are large, uncontained fires.
“Right now, more than 6,000 firefighters from the USDA Forest Service are battling wildfires across the nation alongside our local, state and federal partners,” said USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Jim Hubbard. “Our aggressive initial attack efforts have proven incredibly proficient in protecting the American people and our lands as crews continue to face unrelenting challenges such as high winds and dry lightning.”
In a continuing effort to serve the American people, USDA partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center. This central source of information utilizes a searchable knowledge base of disaster-related resources powered by agents with subject matter expertise. The Disaster Resource Center website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance. USDA also developed a disaster assistance discovery tool specifically targeted to rural and agricultural issues. The tool walks producers through five questions that generate personalized results identifying which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover from a natural disaster.
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. USDA’s emergency loan 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.
Helping producers weather financial impacts of disasters:
Livestock owners and contract growers who experience above normal livestock deaths due to specific weather events, as well as to disease or animal attacks, may qualify for assistance under USDA’s Livestock Indemnity Program.
Livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to a qualifying drought condition or 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 if the losses were due to natural disasters.
Helping operations recover after disasters:
USDA also can provide financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. Assistance may also be available for emergency animal mortality disposal from natural disasters and other causes.
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 also can help relieve imminent threats to life and property caused by flood, fires and other natural disasters 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. Visit USDA’s disaster resources website to learn more about USDA disaster preparedness and response. For more information on USDA disaster assistance programs, please contact your local USDA Service Center. To find your local USDA Service Center go to farmers.gov/service-center-locator.