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North Dakota Ag News Headlines
Additional Funding to Help Farmers Impacted by Drought
North Dakota Ag Connection - 02/12/2018

Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, secured additional assistance for producers impacted by severe drought as part of the Senate's supplemental funding legislation for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. Hoeven included provisions in the bill to make additional funding available for impacted producers under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) and Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP).

- Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish program (ELAP) -- Chairman Hoeven made additional ELAP funding available to assist producers for activities, including transporting hay and livestock, during the drought.

- Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) -- The legislation enables producers, who were forced to sell their livestock due to drought or other weather-related conditions, to receive LIP payment for their losses and removes payment limitations currently capped at $125,000. The provision is retroactive to January 1, 2017.

"We've worked hard to provide relief to farmers and ranchers who have been challenged by severe drought and other natural disasters," said Hoeven. "The supplemental appropriations bill makes additional ELAP funding available to help producers cover costs, including for transporting livestock and hay. Additionally, it enables cattlemen who were forced to sell their livestock at a loss during the drought to receive Livestock Indemnity payments to help with their losses."

As chairman, Hoeven worked to support vital programs for agriculture producers and rural communities challenged by other natural disasters, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as recent wildfires and drought. The supplemental agreement provides $3.597 billion in disaster funding for programs under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture-FDA Appropriations Subcommittee, including:

Agriculture Disaster -- $2.36 billion

- $2.36 billion for crop disasters as a result of hurricanes and wildfires. Producers who purchased crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) on eligible crops will be allowed to recoup up to 85 percent of their losses. Producers who did not have crop insurance or NAP on eligible crops will be allowed to recoup up to 65 percent of their losses. Producers receiving payments will be required to purchase crop insurance or NAP policies on eligible commodities for each of the next two years.

Disaster Program Changes -- $42 million

- Provides additional funding under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-Raised Fish Program.

- Amends the Livestock Indemnity Program to cover "sold livestock for a reduced sale price" as cause for an indemnity payment due to natural disaster or drought (only mortality is currently covered), and removes payment limitations currently capped at $125,000.

- Increases payment acreage for the Tree Assistance Program from 500 acres to 1,000 acres.

- All changes would be applied to losses incurred on January 1, 2017 or later.

Office of the Inspector General -- $2.5 million

- $2.5 million for Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit and investigative oversight activities related to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Research Programs -- $22 million

- $22 million for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to repair damages to 14 ARS-owned facilities and equipment resulting from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Conservation Programs -- $941 million

- $400 million for the Emergency Conservation Program to address anticipated project demand due to the hurricanes and wildfires, as well as current backlogs for Stafford and non-Stafford projects.

- $541 million for the Emergency Watershed Program to address anticipated project demand due to the hurricanes, as well as current backlogs for Stafford and non-Stafford projects.

Rural Development -- $184.1 million

- $18.6 million for Multi-Family Housing Direct Loans for rehabilitation of multifamily housing properties affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Funding is needed to cover properties damaged or destroyed but not covered by existing insurance policies.

- $165.5 million for the Rural Utilities Services to repair drinking water systems and sewer and solid waste disposal systems affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Within this amount, $2 million is provided for technical assistance.

Nutrition Programs -- $38 million

- $24 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program to provide an additional 35 million pounds of food for food banks in states affected by hurricanes and wildfires.

- $14 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to help repair and replace equipment in WIC clinics in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- $7.6 million

- $7.6 million to repair 12 FDA sites damaged by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, including repair or replacement of scientific equipment such as those used to test foods for chemical contamination.

Seed Cotton/Dairy

- Language is included to make cotton eligible for the Price Loss Coverage program (PLC) beginning with the 2018 crop year. This language would address ongoing and disaster-related economic challenges faced by cotton producers, and allow them to participate in the PLC program, just like all other major U.S. commodity producers.

- Language is also included to adjust production margins for the Dairy Margin Protection Program and lifts the restriction on livestock crop insurance expenditures.

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