USDA provides disaster assistance update during the Cattle industry Convention
The USDA has provided an update on the $750 million earmarked for livestock producers impacted by severe drought.
Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, says assistance will be delivered through a two-phased approach. The first phase will rely on producer data reported through the Livestock Forage Disaster Program.
“We obviously had a very challenging drought last year and the opportunity here is to fill up some of those gaps that we weren’t able to do with the Livestock Forage Program and other programs and so we’ll be using that data,” he says. “Our goal here is to streamline that so it’s as easy as it can be for producers. We also want to encourage producers to use those existing safety net tools and so by using that data we think it sends a message that in the future producer should think about those tools.”
The USDA plans to distribute at least half of the $750 million through the first phase by the end of March 2022.
The second phase will address gaps in disaster assistance gaps.
“There may be some producers that aren’t enrolled in these programs or haven’t been participating, so that’s one gap. There may be some other things that just by the nature of the program we miss,” he says. “In phase two we’ll take a little more time to figure out what those gaps are. We’ll hear back from producers after phase one and that will give us a better sense of gaps as well. The idea is that we want to move relatively quickly in phase one and take a little more time in phase two because we have an idea of what those gaps are, but we are going to learn some things.”
Bonnie says the UDA remains guided by its goal of streamlining the application process to reduce the burden on producers.
On September 30, President Biden signed into law the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act. The act includes $10 billion in assistance to agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms, and other eligible disasters during 2020 and 2021.
Brownfield was one of three reporters that interviewed Bonnie during the Cattle Industry Convention.