snowy corn field

With half of the state’s corn crop yet to be harvested, the secretarial disaster declaration may offer some help through the FSA office.

The start of the new year is typically a time where farmers begin planning for the next growing season and putting the finances in order. However, this year there is a large amount of financial affairs that need to be taken care of from the 2019 cropping year. USDA’s Secretarial Disaster Declaration has activated several assistance programs for farmers in North Dakota, according to Lindsey Abentroth, public affairs and outreach specialist in the North Dakota Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

“Because of the flooding and the October blizzard, which impacted growing and harvesting conditions in the state this year, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue approved a secretarial disaster declaration request for 47 counties in North Dakota,” Abentroth said. “The approval of the declaration activated several USDA assistance programs for farmers and ranchers.”

Due to the adjoining counties language, in reality, all 53 counties in the state are eligible for the FSA assistance programs, however, additional documentation will be required from producers in counties not directly covered in the declaration.

To help farmers and ranchers better understand the assistance programs that are available, individuals from the North Dakota FSA office held a webinar, in conjunction with NDSU Extension, on Dec. 5.

“NDSU Extension and FSA offices have been fielding questions from farmers and ranchers regarding assistance programs such as eligibility, required documentation and program deadlines,” said Miranda Meehan, Extension livestock environmental stewardship specialist.

The FSA offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist agricultural producers in their recovery efforts following floods, blizzards or similar qualifying natural causes. The following is a list of programs and loans that were discussed by state FSA personnel during the webinar:

  • Emergency Loan Program – This is available to producers with agricultural operations in a county under a primary or contiguous secretarial or presidential disaster designation. These low-interest loans help producers recover from production and physical losses.
  • Loan servicing – FSA loan customers have options during financial stress. Borrowers who are unable to make payments on a loan should contact their local FSA farm loan manager to learn about the available options.
  • Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program+ (WHIP+) – WHIP+ provides assistance to eligible producers who suffered losses to crops affected by qualifying natural disasters. Crops intended for grazing are not eligible. Qualifying disaster events must have occurred between Jan. 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2019. In North Dakota, the WHIP+ qualifying disaster events are flooding, snowstorms, tornadoes and wildfires. Producers in a primary presidential-declared or secretarial-designated disaster county for the qualifying disaster event are eligible. If a primary designation or declaration did not occur, the County FSA Committee can review producer documentation to show the loss was due to a qualifying disaster event. Eligible crops may be insured with federal crop insurance, NAP coverage or uninsured.
  • WHIP+ML – The Milk Loss Program (ML) will provide payments to eligible dairy operations for milk that was dumped or removed without compensation from the commercial milk market because of a qualifying 2018 and 2019 natural disaster. Producers who suffered losses of harvested commodities, including hay, stored in on-farm structures in 2018 and 2019 will receive assistance through the On-Farm Storage Loss Program.
  • Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) – This provides emergency relief for losses due to feed or water shortages, disease, adverse weather or other conditions that are not adequately addressed by other disaster programs. ELAP covers damaged or destroyed livestock feed that was purchased, or mechanically harvested forage or feedstuffs intended for use as feed for the producer’s eligible livestock. To be considered eligible, harvested forage must be baled; forage that is only cut, raked or windrowed is not eligible. Producers must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss is apparent. ELAP also covers up to 150 lost grazing days in instances when a producer has been forced to remove livestock from a grazing pasture due to floodwaters. For beekeepers, ELAP covers beehive losses (the physical structure) in instances when the hive was destroyed by a natural disaster, including flooding, high winds and tornadoes.
  • Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) – This offers payments to eligible producers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. Eligible losses include those the FSA determined were caused by floods, blizzards, tornadoes, lightning, extreme heat and cold, or disease resulting from adverse weather. Producers are required to provide documentation of death losses resulting from an eligible adverse weather event and must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is apparent.
  • On-Farm Storage Loss Program (OFSLP) – The OFSLP will provide payments to eligible producers who suffered uncompensated losses of harvested commodities, including grains, oilseeds and hay, stored in on-farm structures as a result of floods, tornadoes, snowstorms and wildfires that occurred in the 2018 and 2019 calendar years.

More detailed information on these programs can be obtained by watching the webinar at: or by visiting your local FSA office.

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