ALEXANDRIA - Hurricane Harvey made an impact on the lives of many in Louisiana, including our farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. As producers move into recovery mode, and assess damages and losses resulting from the hurricane and subsequent flooding, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) along with leaders from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Risk Management Agency (RMA) are committed to help producers through the recovery process.
“NRCS is a valuable partner to help landowners with their recovery effort,” explained Kevin Norton, State Conservationist for NRCS in Louisiana. “Our staff will work one-on-one with landowners to make assessments of damages and develop approaches that focus on effective recovery of the land.”
NRCS is accepting Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) applications from producers in the disaster declared parishes to apply conservation practices to damaged or destroyed land due to Harvey. The deadline for this funding is Friday, October 20, 2017.
Additional NRCS programs include the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, which provides assistance to local government sponsors with the cost of addressing watershed impairments or hazards like debris removal and streambank stabilization. The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) can provide longer term recovery. NRCS staff can provide landowners with technical assistance and conservation planning to assist in short-term and long-term recovery. Landowners should contact NRCS for specific program application deadlines.
In addition to NRCS programs, FSA also provides a multi-faceted approach to storm recovery. “FSA has a variety of disaster assistance programs to support farmers and ranchers through times of adversity,” said T. Christine Normand, Acting State Executive Director for Louisiana Farm Service Agency (FSA). “Once you are able to evaluate your losses, it is important to contact your local FSA office to report all damages and losses and learn more about how we can assist.”
FSA administers many safety-net programs to help producers recover from eligible losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP). The FSA Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Producers located in counties that received a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Compensation also is available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. USDA encourages farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn what documents can help the local office expedite assistance, such as farm records, receipts and pictures of damages or losses.
USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) Regional Office Director Roddric Bell said producers with coverage through the RMA administered federal crop insurance program should contact their crop insurance agent for issues regarding filing claims. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses.
“Producers should report crop damage within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days,” Bell said. “The Approved Insurance Providers, loss adjusters and agents are experienced and well-trained in handling these types of events.”
For more information on all USDA disaster assistance programs, contact your local USDA Service Center (http://offices.usda.gov) or online at www.usda.gov. For RMA assistance, please contact your local crop insurance agent. For all USDA Hurricane Harvey recovery resources, please visit https://www.usda.gov/topics/disaster/storms