USDA previews crop and revenue loss assistance for agricultural producers
WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Nov. 15 announced plans for additional emergency relief and pandemic assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA is preparing to roll out the Emergency Relief Program Phase Two as well as the new Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program, which are two programs to help offset crop and revenue losses for producers. USDA is sharing early information to help producers gather documents and train front-line staff on the new approach.
“We have worked diligently to help agricultural producers bounce back from devastating natural disasters as well as the coronavirus pandemic through an extensive suite of programs,” said Vilsack. “No matter how well we design these targeted efforts, we often find that some producers fall through the cracks or were harmed more severely than their neighbors. These new programs apply a holistic approach to emergency assistance — an approach not focused on any one disaster event or commodity but rather one focused on filling gaps in assistance for agricultural producers who have, over the past few years, suffered losses from natural disasters and the pandemic.”
ERP Phase Two will assist eligible agricultural producers who suffered eligible crop losses, measured through decreases in revenue, due to wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms, freeze (including a polar vortex), smoke exposure, excessive moisture and qualifying droughts occurring in calendar years 2020 and 2021.
PARP will assist eligible producers of agricultural commodities who experienced revenue decreases in calendar year 2020 compared to 2018 or 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. PARP will help address gaps in previous pandemic assistance, which was targeted at price loss or lack of market access, rather than overall revenue losses.
EMERGENCY RELIEF PROGRAM PHASE TWO
ERP is authorized under the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, which includes $10 billion in assistance to agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms and other eligible disasters experienced during calendar years 2020 and 2021.
Phase Two builds on ERP Phase One, which was rolled out in May 2022 and has since paid more than $7.1 billion to producers who incurred eligible crop losses that were covered by federal crop insurance or Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
ERP Phase Two includes producers who suffered eligible losses but may not have received program benefits in Phase One. To be eligible for Phase Two, producers must have suffered a loss in allowable gross revenue as defined in forthcoming program regulations in 2020 or 2021 due to necessary expenses related to losses of eligible crops from a qualifying natural disaster event.
Eligible crops include both traditional insurable commodities and specialty crops that are produced in the United States as part of a farming operation and are intended to be commercially marketed. Like other emergency relief and pandemic assistance programs, USDA’s Farm Service Agency continues to look for ways to simplify the process for both staff and producers while reducing the paperwork burden. The design of ERP Phase Two is part of that effort.
In general, ERP Phase Two payments are expected to be based on the difference in certain farm revenue between a typical year of revenue as will be specified in program regulations for the producer and the disaster year. ERP Phase Two assistance is targeted to the remaining needs of producers impacted by qualifying natural disaster events, while avoiding windfalls or duplicative payments. Details will be available when the rule is published later this year.
Producers who are eligible for assistance through ERP Phase One have until Friday, Dec. 16, 2022, to contact FSA at their local USDA Service Center to receive program benefits. Going forward, if any additional ERP Phase One prefilled applications are generated due to corrections or other circumstances, there will be a 30-day deadline from the date of notification for that particular application.
PANDEMIC ASSISTANCE REVENUE PROGRAM
PARP is authorized and funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
To be eligible for PARP, an agricultural producer must have been in the business of farming during at least part of the 2020 calendar year and had a certain threshold decrease in allowable gross revenue for the 2020 calendar year, as compared to 2018 or 2019. Exact details on the calculations and eligibility will be available when the forthcoming rule is published.
HOW TO PREPARE
ERP Phase Two and PARP will use revenue information that is readily available from most tax records. FSA encourages producers to have their tax documents from the past few years and supporting materials ready, as explained further below. Producers will need similar documentation to what was needed for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Phase Two, where a producer could use 2018 or 2019 as the benchmark year relative to the disaster year.
In the coming weeks, USDA will provide additional information on how to apply for assistance through ERP Phase Two and PARP. In the meantime, producers are encouraged to begin gathering supporting documentation including:
· Schedule F (Form 1040); and
· Profit or Loss from Farming or similar tax documents for tax years 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 for ERP and for calendar years 2018, 2019 and 2020 for PARP.
Producers should also have, or be prepared to have, the following forms on file for both ERP and PARP program participation:
· Form AD-2047, Customer Data Worksheet (as applicable to the program participant);
· Form CCC-902, Farm Operating Plan for an individual or legal entity;
· Form CCC-901, Member Information for Legal Entities (if applicable); and
· Form AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) Certification.
Most producers, especially those who have previously participated in FSA programs, will likely have these required forms on file. However, those who are uncertain or want to confirm should contact FSA at their local USDA Service Center.
In addition to the forms listed above, underserved producers are encouraged to register their status with FSA, using Form CCC-860, Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, Beginning and Veteran Farmer or Rancher Certification, as certain existing permanent and ad-hoc disaster programs provide increased benefits or reduced fees and premiums.
Through proactive communications and outreach, USDA will keep producers and stakeholders informed as program eligibility, application and implementation details unfold.