USDA unveils investments targeting farmers and ranchers

U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this month unveiled program improvements and investments targeting farmers and ranchers, including improved risk protection for underserved producers, investing in processing capacity for livestock producers, and providing relief for producers impacted by disaster and the pandemic.

The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters. There is a congressionally mandated fee waiver for basic coverage for underserved producers. However, a previous set of procedures and regulations created a paperwork burden that stood in the way of many producers taking advantage of the basic coverage option.

The recent rule removes barriers and establishes procedures through which an underserved producer (with a CCC-860, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, beginning and veteran farmer or rancher certification, on file prior to the applicable NAP application closing date) will automatically receive basic coverage for any NAP-eligible crops they plant. Underserved producers on file for 2022 will also receive retroactive basic coverage. Like all other covered producers, underserved producers will still need to file a notice of loss and apply for benefits. In addition to the basic catastrophic level coverage under NAP, producers can buy higher levels of coverage by paying a premium. Underserved producers receive a 50% discount on any premiums.

Meat Processing

The USDA also announced plans to invest more than $12 million to expand independent meat and poultry processing capacity in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota. These funds are in addition to recent announcements of $74 million in 22 Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program projects, $75 million in grants through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program, $3.9 million in Value Added Producer Grants, and $5.7 million in Food Supply Chain Loan Guarantees, all supporting meat and poultry processing.

Additional Disaster Relief

The agency unveiled two new programs that fill remaining gaps in previous natural disaster and pandemic assistance. To be eligible for the second phase of the Emergency Relief Program, producers must have suffered a decrease in allowable gross revenue in 2020 or 2021 due to necessary expenses related to losses of eligible crops from a qualifying natural disaster event. Assistance will be primarily to producers of crops that were not covered by Federal Crop Insurance or NAP, since crops covered by Federal Crop Insurance and NAP were included in the assistance under ERP Phase One. To be eligible for the Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program, an agricultural producer must have been in the business of farming during at least part of the 2020 calendar year and had a 15% or greater decrease in allowable gross revenue for the 2020 calendar year, as compared to a baseline year. The ERP Phase 2 and PARP application period is open from Jan. 23 to June 2, 2023.

Fertilizer Production

USDA will soon begin accepting public comments on environmental and related aspects of 21 potentially viable projects to increase fertilizer production across the United States totaling up to $88 million. Applicants have requested grant funding through the first round of the agency’s newly established Fertilizer Production Expansion Program. USDA is considering fertilizer production projects in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.




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