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USDA Assists Iowans Hit by Flood

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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USDA announced Farm Service Agency offices in the Iowa counties of Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury beginning Monday are accepting applications for the Emergency Conservation Program to address the widespread damages from the most recent Missouri River flooding. (DTN photo by Chris Clayton)

OMAHA (DTN) -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on Monday he has directed USDA to aid farmers in five western Iowa counties hit especially hard by flooding last month.

In a news release, USDA announced Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices in the Iowa counties of Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury beginning Monday are accepting applications for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) to address the widespread damages from the most recent Missouri River flooding. ECP enrollment deadlines may vary by county and producers will need to contract their local FSA office for more information.

Flexibilities have been provided to reduce and streamline the burdensome environmental assessments typically required by ECP, according to USDA.

"USDA is committed to helping Iowa farmers, ranchers and communities impacted by the devastating flooding to successfully recover following this disaster," Perdue said. "Our staff in your local FSA Service Center is eager to help connect you with the vital services we offer, and where possible, putting people before paperwork."

Last week, FSA announced that emergency grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was approved in Iowa. Grazing will be allowed on CRP acres through May 14, 2019.

Other USDA programs are available to agricultural producers hit hard from flooding.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help from natural disasters and conserve water resources.

USDA has an emergency loan program that provides eligible farmers low-interest loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. In addition, 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.

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 (LIP). Producers who suffer losses to or are prevented from planting agricultural commodities not covered by federal crop insurance may be eligible for assistance under USDA's Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program if the losses were due to natural disasters.

Iowa was not the only state to have producers eligible for USDA disaster programs. Nebraska also saw widespread flooding.

USDA announced on March 25 that 45 Nebraska counties were approved to begin accepting applications for the ECP to address damages from the flooding, according to a Nebraska FSA release from March 25. Emergency grazing on CRP acres in Nebraska was authorized at that time and grazing on CRP acres will end on April 30, 2019.

Nebraska livestock producers also have until Monday, April 15, to report to report livestock carcasses to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ). The NDEQ will log the information and USDA crews will handle pickup and disposal of the animals.

USDA also separately announced that farmers and ranchers who had previously received FSA debt forgiveness under restructuring plans can now apply for emergency loans as well.

Visit USDA's disaster resources website (https://www.usda.gov/…) to learn more. For more information on USDA disaster assistance programs, please contact your local USDA Service Center.

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

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Russ Quinn