FSA Programs for Drought Assistance Back »

Drought conditions across a growing number of South Dakota counties have many livestock producers facing forage shortages. The Agriculture Act of 2014, most commonly known as the 2014 Farm Bill, includes programs designed to assist livestock producers facing extended drought conditions.

Many of USDA’s disaster programs are effective when the United States Drought Monitor indicates severe (D2) and extreme (D3) drought category. The following summarizes the USDA disaster programs that are currently available. Additional information can be found on USDA-Farm Service Agency website. Please note that not all counties may qualify for a particular program.

Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP)

The Livestock Forage Disaster Program is available to eligible producers facing grazing losses due to drought or fire.

To qualify for LFP assistance:

  • A producer must own, lease or contract feed any of the covered classes of livestock during the 60 calendar days prior to the qualifying drought or fire occurrence
  • A producer must provide pasture or grazing land in the qualified county or have been prohibited from grazing federally managed rangeland due to a qualifying fire occurrence
  • A producer must certify grazing losses have occurred due to the qualifying drought or fire occurrence
  • A producer must file form CCC-853 for all grazing acres that qualify due to forage losses due to drought or fire by the deadline

Eligible Livestock
Qualified livestock includes beef, dairy, buffalo, sheep, goats, deer, equine, swine, elk, poultry, reindeer, alpacas, emus, and llamas. For 2017, the monthly payment rate for adult beef bulls and cows is $30.00, beef non-adult animals weighing 500 pounds or more is $22.50, and the all sheep rate is $7.50. The Farm Service Agency LFP fact sheet contains a full list of the rates for eligible livestock.

County Drought Qualifications
The number of weeks a county is designated as a D2, D3 or D4 drought per the U.S Drought Monitor determines the number of months of feed assistance that can be received by the producer. A livestock producer is eligible for LFP assistance if they own or lease grazing land in a county that has been rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as:

  • D2 (severe drought) for at least eight (8) consecutive weeks during the grazing period, assistance equal to one monthly payment,
  • D3 (extreme drought) at any time during the normal grazing period, assistance equal to three (3) monthly payments,
  • D3(extreme drought) for at least four (4) weeks during the grazing period, assistance equal to four (4) monthly payments,
  • D4 (exceptional drought) at any time during normal grazing period, assistance equal to four (4) monthly payments,
  • D4 (exceptional drought) for four (4) weeks, not necessarily consecutively, during the grazing period, assistance equal to five (5) monthly payments.

S.D. Eligible Counties
Based on the Drought Monitor published on June 22, 2017, there are 6 counties that have been designated as D3; Dewey, Walworth, Campbell, McPherson, Potter and Edmunds. This designation qualifies pastures physically located in these counties for a 3 month LFP payment. The drought monitor is updated weekly and could result in additional counties to qualify if conditions continue to worsen. Affected producers in the eligible counties may contact their local FSA office to make application.

Questions can be directed to your local FSA office.

Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees & Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP)

This program provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish. Covered losses are from eligible adverse weather or loss condition, including blizzards, disease, water shortages, and wildfires. ELAP is not a duplicate program as it will only cover losses not covered by other programs such as LFP or the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP).

Eligible Livestock Losses
There are four categories of livestock losses covered by ELAP, described in greater detail with in the ELAP factsheet:

  • Livestock losses caused by an eligible loss condition;
  • Livestock feed and grazing losses that are not due to drought or wildfires on federally managed lands;
  • Losses resulting from the additional cost of transporting water to livestock due to an eligible drought;
  • Losses resulted from the additional cost associated with gathering livestock for treatment related to cattle tick fever.

Water Transport
The national average price per gallon to transport water is provided in the following table based on the method the producer uses to transport water for the applicable program year.

Method of Transporting Water National Average
Price per Gallon
Personal labor/equipment $0.035
Hired labor/rented equipment $0.05
Contracted water transportation $0.07

Funding & Payments
ELAP funding is authorized up to $20 million dollars nationwide each fiscal year (October 1 – September 30th). Applications are totaled, and may be factored based on the $20 million dollar maximum. Payments for losses due to transporting water will be based on a minimum of 60 percent of the lesser of:

  • The total value of the cost to transport water to eligible livestock for 150 days, based on the daily water requirements for the eligible livestock; or
  • The total value of the cost to transport water to eligible livestock for the program year, based on the actual number of gallons of water the eligible producer transported to eligible livestock for the program year.

Producers facing water hauling costs should maintain a complete list of the number and type of animals the water is being hauled to, when and how much water is hauled, any equipment rental agreements, and receipts from commercial/contracted trucking firms. Additionally, producers should work with their local FSA office to ensure the documentation they are keeping will be sufficient.

CRP Emergency Haying and Grazing

As of June 23rd, South Dakota Counties that have a D2 Severe Drought designation on the US Drought Monitor, or worse, are eligible to release certain CRP acres for emergency grazing. Emergency grazing is limited to CRP acres physically located within the boundary of the eligible county. CRP participants must contact their local administrative county office and complete the necessary paperwork prior to turning livestock into the CRP. This does not permit CRP acres to be hayed at this time. Weather conditions will continue to be monitored for emergency release of haying, which will not be able to occur until after August 1st which is the end of the primary nesting season.

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acreage Reports:

In order to maintain program eligibility and benefits, producers must timely file acreage reports. Failure to file an acreage report by the crop acreage reporting deadline may result in ineligibility for future FSA program benefits. FSA will not accept acreage reports provided more than a year after the acreage reporting deadline. FSA reminds producers to report prevented planting and failed acres in order to establish or retain FSA program eligibility for some programs. The CCC-576, Notice of Loss, is used to report failed acreage and prevented planting and may be completed by any producer with an interest in the crop.

What to report?
Producers should report crop acreage they intended to plant, but due to natural disaster, were prevented from planting. Natural disaster conditions include, but are not limited to, excess moisture as well as drought. Prevented planting acreage must be reported on form CCC-576, Notice of Loss, no later than 15 calendar days after the final planting date for the applicable crop.

Late-Filed Reports
If a producer is unable to report the prevented planting acreage within the 15 calendar days following the final planting date, a late-filed report can be submitted. Late-filed reports may only be accepted if FSA conducts a farm visit to assess the eligible disaster condition that prevented the crop from being planted. A measurement service fee will be charged in cases where a farm visit is necessary.

Failed Acreages
Additionally, producers with failed acres should also use form CCC-576, Notice of Loss, to report failed acres. Failed acreage is acreage that was timely planted with the intent to harvest, but because of disaster related conditions, the crop failed before it could be brought to harvest. Disaster related conditions include, but are not limited to, the following: excessive moisture, flooding, freeze/frost, hail, tornado, wind and drought.

Non-Insured Assistance Program:

For losses on crops covered by the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), producers must file a CCC-576, Notice of Loss, in the FSA County Office within 15 days of the occurrence of the disaster or when losses become apparent or 15 calendar days after the normal harvest date. Timely filing a Notice of Loss is required for all crops including grasses.

Producers with NAP on hand-harvested crops must notify FSA of damage or loss through the administrative County Office within 72 hours of the date of damage or loss first becomes apparent. This notification can be provided by filing a CCC-576, email, fax or phone. Producers who notify the County Office by any method other than by filing the CCC-576 are still required to file a CCC-576, Notice of Loss, within the required 15 calendar days.

Contact the local FSA Office for additional details.

Emergency Loans: Disaster Designation Required

After a disaster designation is declared, producers operating in primary and contiguous counties are eligible to apply for low interest emergency loans. Counties with an intensity value of at least D2 for eight consecutive weeks on the US Drought Monitor receive Secretarial Disaster Designation for drought under a streamlined process. Disaster designations can also be obtained through other processes. Currently no SD counties are declared disaster for 2017 drought.

Emergency loans help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding and other natural disasters or quarantines. Producers have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. Producers can borrow up to 100 percent of the actual loss, to a maximum of $500,000.

Other Loan Assistance: No Disaster Designation Required

FSA has loan programs in addition to emergency loans to assist producers who have suffered financial setbacks from natural disasters. Under a guaranteed loan, a commercial lender makes and services the loans, and FSA guarantees it against loss up to 90 percent in most cases. For those unable to meet the qualifications for a loan guaranteed from a commercial lender, FSA also makes direct loans. Loan funds can be used to provide operating credit, purchase livestock, equipment and real estate, and in some instances refinance debt.

Disaster Set-Aside: Disaster Designation Required

Disaster set-aside is another assistance item available after a disaster designation is declared. Under this program FSA borrowers who suffered losses as a result of a natural disaster might be eligible to delay some or all of their farm loan payments due the year of the disaster or the following year. The amount set-aside is due on or before the final due date of the loan.

Other Loan Servicing: No Disaster Designation Required

Comprehensive loan servicing options during times of financial stress are available to all FSA borrowers without the requirement of a disaster declaration. Part of this is referred to as Primary Loan Servicing. To help keep borrowers on the farm or ranch, FSA may be able to provide servicing benefits to direct loan borrowers who are unable to make their payments due to circumstances beyond their control. These benefits include re-amortization, rescheduling and deferral which might result in lowering the interest rate, reducing the payment amount or lowering the debt amount through write-down. Additional servicing options are available to assist borrowers in paying their expenses and loan payments.

Additional information may be obtained on FSA loan and servicing programs by contacting your local FSA office or reviewing FSA website material.

Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP)

The Livestock Indemnity Program covers livestock losses due to adverse weather conditions. While drought is not covered under LIP (except in Anthrax cases), extreme heat is. Documentation of the number and type of animals lost, proof of ownership and weather conditions on the day of the loss will need to accompany the application for a loss payment.

  • Under LIP, payments are based on 75 percent of the average market value of the animal. Contracted animals are covered at 75 percent of the average income loss sustained by the contract grower.
  • Current payment rates for a variety of livestock types, kinds and weights are listed in the LIP fact sheet.

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP)

The Emergency Conservation Program provides emergency funding and technical assistance to rehabilitate land damaged by a natural disaster or implement emergency water conservation measures during drought.

While ECP will not address conservation problems that existed before a qualified disaster, it will cover new problems, which if left untreated, would:

  • Impair or endanger the land.
  • Materially affect the land's productive capacity.
  • Represent unusual damage that, except for wind erosion, is not the type to recur frequently in the area.
  • Be so expensive that federal assistance is required to return the land to productive use.

Cost-share assistance is available at 75 percent of the implementation costs for conservation practices including restoring livestock fences and conservation structures and providing water for livestock during periods of severe drought.

Producers interested in utilizing ECP will need to talk to their FSA office regarding the project and enrollment periods.

  • Producers facing drought issues should begin compiling ownership records, production documents, lease agreements, and maintain good records of non-typical feed or water purchases.
  • They should also work with their local FSA office to ensure the documentation information they are compiling will qualify as evidence in the event the 2017 drought is either severe enough or lasts long enough to trigger any of the programs available.

Disclaimer: Producers should contact their local FSA office with questions regarding the assistance programs listed. The information in this article is believed to be reliable and correct. However, no guarantee or warranty is provided for its accuracy or completeness. This information is provided exclusively for educational purposes and any action or inaction or decisions made as the result of reading this material is solely the responsibility of readers. The author(s) and South Dakota State University disclaim any responsibility for loss associated with the use of this information.

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