Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) announced it is implementing a program to provide aid to certain livestock producers. This program, known as the Emergency Livestock Relief Program (“ELRP”), is administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (“FSA”) in order to provide direct assistance to certain eligible livestock producers who suffered forage losses resulting from severe drought or wildfire in 2021. FSA is providing ELRP assistance in two separate phases. This article discusses Phase One of the program and will be updated as USDA releases information on Phase Two of the program.
In September 2021, Congress passed the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act (“Act”) (P.L. 117-43), which provides $10 billion in emergency assistance for agricultural producers impacted by certain disasters during 2020 and 2021. Of this $10 billion, $750 million is designated to specifically assist livestock producers who suffered financial losses due to drought or wildfires during 2021. Thus, FSA is implementing ELRP to carry out the funding provisions of the Act.
Phase One of ELRP provides direct financial assistance to producers who faced increased supplemental feed costs due to forage loss resulting from qualifying drought or wildfire in 2021. FSA is assessing data from the 2021 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (“LFP”) to calculate the amount of emergency assistance an eligible producer receives. While LFP provides assistance to producers who incur additional feed costs when a drought or wildfire adversely impacts their grazelands, ELRP is supplementing this assistance by issuing direct payments to eligible producers affected by the severe drought and wildfires that struct the U.S. in 2021.
Under Phase One of ELRP, only producers participating in the 2021 LFP are eligible for program assistance. To qualify for ELRP assistance, a livestock producer—during the 2021 normal grazing period—must have suffered grazing losses due to drought in a county that was rated as having a D2 (sever drought) for eight consecutive weeks or a D3 (extreme drought) or D4 (exceptional drought) of drought intensity by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Producers permitted to graze livestock on federally managed rangelands, but were prohibited from doing so due to wildfire in 2021, also qualify for ELRP financial assistance.
Eligible livestock under ELRP are the same livestock eligible for LFP. This includes grazing animals that satisfy the majority of net energy requirement of nutrition through grazing of forage grasses or legumes and include such species as alpacas, beef cattle, buffalo/bison, beefalo, dairy cattle, deer, elk, emus, equine, goats, llamas, reindeer or sheep. Furthermore, potential recipients of ELRP aid must also satisfy all producer and livestock eligibility requirements as prescribed under the LFP regulations.
How to Apply
Because FSA is using LFP data to determine payments and eligibility, producers are not required to apply for ELRP assistance. However, producers must have the following forms on file with FSA by a deadline to be announced by the agency:
- CCC-853 (Livestock Forage Disaster Program Application)
- AD-2047 (Customer Data Worksheet)
- CCC-902 (Farm Operating Plan for an Individual or Legal Entity)
- CCC-901 (Member Information for Legal Entities, if applicable)
- FSA-510 (Request for an Exception to the $125,000 Payment Limitation for Certain Programs, if applicable)
- CCC-860 (Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, Beginning and Veteran Farmer or Rancher Certification, if applicable)
- AD-1026 (Highly Erodible Land Conservation (“HELC”) and Wetland Conservation (“WC”) Certification)
Payment Calculation and Limitations
To calculate an eligible producer’s Phase One ELRP payment, FSA will use livestock inventories and forage acreage or restricted animal units and grazing days that a producer reported on their CCC-853 form for the 2021 calendar year. Accordingly, payments will be equal to the eligible livestock producer’s gross 2021 LFP payment multiplied by a payment percentage. For historically underserved producers (i.e., socially disadvantaged, limited resource, beginning, and veteran), the payment percentage is 90%, and a payment percentage of 75% for all other producers. Eligible producers with a CCC-860 on file with FSA for the 2021 program year qualify for the 90% payment percentage.
Under ELRP, Adjusted Gross Income (“AGI”) limitations do not apply, but there are payment limitations for eligible producers. Payment limitations under the program are determined by the producer’s or legal entity’s average adjusted gross farm income, which is income earned from their agricultural operation. If an eligible producer or entity, other than joint ventures or general partnerships, has an average adjusted gross farm income of less than 75% of their average AGI for tax years 2017 through 2019, they cannot receive an ELRP payment of more than $125,000. For an eligible producer or entity, other than joint ventures or general partnership, with an average AGI of at least 75% that is derived from agricultural activities, they may be eligible for an ELRP payment of up to $250,000. Eligible participants seeking the increased limitation, they must
For the increased payment limitation, eligible producers and entities must:
- File form FSA-510;
- Provide certification that their average adjusted gross farm income is at least 75% of their AGI; and
- Provide certification from a licensed Certified Public Accountant or attorney that the participant qualifies to receive the increased limitation.
ELRP Phase Two
FSA is providing ELRP assistance in two phases, but the agency is issuing payments only to Phase One eligible producers are this time. According to the agency, Phase Two of the program will provide assistance to producers impacted by drought and wildfire during 2021, but did not qualify to receive assistance under Phase One. FSA plans to update ELRP information and resources with Phase Two policies and eligibility provisions once available. To see if FSA has released Phase Two information, click here.
Additional USDA Assistance Opportunities
FSA is also currently developing a two-phased program known as the Emergency Relief Program (“ERP”) Assistance for Crop Producers to provide financial assistance to certain row crop and specialty crop producers that were adversely impacted by eligible natural disasters during 2020 or 2021. View USDA updates on ERP here. Additionally, FSA is offering additional financial relief to certain producers under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program (“ELAP”) for losses due to disease and certain adverse weather events. Specifically, ELAP provides assistance to eligible producers to recover some financial losses resulting from increased costs of hauling livestock to forage. Unlike ELRP, this program will provide aid to eligible producers for 2021, 2022, and subsequent years.
To view USDA’s press release announcing Phase One of ELRP, click here.
For updates on Phase One and Phase Two of ELRP, click here.