In the wake of wildfires that have scorched more than a million acres of land in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas in March, there is an assortment of federal programs available to help ranchers and landowners rebuild.
Agency officials addressed a full house at Ashland High School March 22 and emphasized that most of the programs reimburse ranchers after reconstruction has taken place. Therefore, producers need to be diligent about records.
Programs wildfire victims may qualify for include:
Emergency Conservation Program
Designed to provide cost-share assistance to rehabilitate farmlands and conservation structures damaged or destroyed by natural disasters (such as wildfires), and restore the land to a productive capacity. The ECP provides cost-share up to 75 percent of actual cost to perform or restore practices. However, the maximum payment per person or legal entity per disaster event is $200,000. The cost-share payment cannot exceed 50 percent of the ag market value of the land. Signup is from March 13 to May 11. Approved practices include restoring permanent fences, restoring livestock water facilities and field windbreaks and farmstead shelterbelts. To apply, visit the county FSA office that has your farm records, and complete form FSA-848. Producers should try to have photos or video of the damage. Applicants will also have to complete AD-1026 and CCC-902 forms.
Livestock Indemnity Program
The LIP compensates livestock owners and contract growers for eligible livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality on farms in the calendar year in which benefits are requested. The livestock must have died no later than 60 calendar days from the ending date of the event. Eligible owners include those who own livestock on the day the animals died. The FSA State Committee has established “normal” mortality rates and payment rates, which vary depending upon the size of the animal. These can be found at your local FSA office. Payment limits are $125,000 per program year. Applications should include the notice of loss no later than 60 days after the animal’s death. Affected folks need to complete a CCC-852 at the local FSA office, plus documentation of the livestock loss, which will be completed on a CCC-854 form.
Emergency Loss Assistance
This program provides assistance for those who have lost livestock feed, including purchased or mechanically harvested forage or feed or assists with the cost of buying additional feed above normal quantities. Eligible growers should either own or cash-lease or be a contract grower of livestock during 60 calendar days before the date of the event. To be eligible, producers must provide verifiable records of lost feed. This can include original feed receipts, invoices, settlement sheets, load summaries and more. A CCC-851 form will be required; producers will have to go to the FSA office to make the application.
Those affected by the wildfires also may be eligible for FSA Farm Loan Programs. These are made available by a disaster designation and authorize emergency loans for physical losses from the fire, including livestock, hay, buildings, farmsteads and equipment. Emergency Loans may be made up to $500,000 at 4 percent interest. There also are Microloans ($50,000 or less at 3 percent interest), Operating Loans (up to $400,000 at 3 percent interest) Farm Ownership Loans (up to $300,000 at 4 percent interest) and Guaranteed Loans (up to $1.399 million). Contact your local FSA office for more information.
Bill Spiegel can be reached at 785-587-7796 or email@example.com.