AUBURN, Alabama–More than 30 counties have been designated as primary natural disaster areas because of ongoing drought conditions. Those counties and an additional 15 contiguous counties are eligible for drought assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To help producers battle the threats, the U.S.D.A. offers farmers several drought assistance programs through the Farm Service Agency (FSA).
Ken Kelley, a farm and agribusiness regional agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, says one USDA-FSA program targets livestock producers. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program, or LFP, provides compensation to farmers who have suffered grazing losses due to drought. In order to be eligible, the farmer must live in a county assessed by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having suffered a severe drought, and the losses must be due to a drought condition during the normal grazing period. Learn more about LFP.
The U.S. Drought Monitor uses a ranking system of D1-D4. A ranking of D2 means that the area has suffered a severe drought for eight consecutive weeks. A ranking of D3 refers to an “extreme drought,” and a ranking of D4 means an “exceptional drought.” A ranking of at least D2 is required for most programs, including LFP.
“Be proactive at the FSA office on LFP,” said Kelley. “Visit your FSA office about the forms and information necessary to file as soon as the proper declaration are made on the severity of the drought.”
Other progams include the Emergency Loan Program for farmers living in primary disaster areas or contiguous counties. The Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops to protect against natural disasters resulting in minimal yields or crop losses. Drought is considered an eligible cause of loss. Coverage eligibility for NAP applies to those producers who have completed an application of coverage and paid the appropriate services fees prior to NAP closing dates established by the Farm Service Agency during 2016.
Commissioner John McMillan of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries also encourages affected producers to contact the USDA-FSA office regarding program eligibility. “We want to make certain Alabama producers are aware of all program opportunities offered by USDA-FSA,” says McMillan.
A list of FSA offices in Alabama can be found here.
Drought Assistance Website
“The site provides farmers with information to make the best decisions possible during this crisis,” said Lemme. “Alabama Extension’s publication also provide additional information on drought management strategies.”