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Image: Farm Economy

Natural Disaster & Emergency Assistance Programs



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Note: This topic page may contain material that has not yet been updated to reflect the new Farm Act, signed into law on February 7. ERS has published highlights and some implications of the Act’s new programs and provisions.  Sign up for the ERS Farm Bill e-newsletter to receive notices of topic page updates and other new Farm Bill-related materials on the ERS website.

Disaster assistance is provided to farmers through natural disaster assistance programs, crop yield and revenue insurance, and emergency and supplemental assistance.

USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) operates disaster assistance programs to assist farmers who encounter natural disasters from drought, flood, freeze, tornadoes, and other natural calamities. These programs include the Emergency Conservation Program, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), the Disaster Debt Set-Aside Program, and the Emergency Loan Program.

USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) operates a program of subsidized crop insurance. To participate in the program, producers choose among a variety of yield and revenue insurance plans. Producers pay a portion of the premium for the insurance. The amount of expected yield or revenue that a producer insures is determined annually.

Agricultural Disaster Relief Trust Fund

The 2008 Farm Act created the Agricultural Disaster Relief Trust Fund, with 3.08 percent of receipts attributable to duties collected on articles entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule to fund Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance (SADA). Amounts not required to meet current withdrawals may be invested in U.S. Treasury obligations with interest credited to the Trust Fund. The Trust Fund may also borrow as repayable advances, with interest, sums necessary to carry out purposes of the fund.

Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance provides disaster assistance payments to producers of eligible commodities (crops, farm-raised fish, honey, and livestock) in counties declared by the Secretary of Agriculture to be "disaster counties," including counties contiguous to disaster counties and any farms with losses in normal production of more than 50 percent. Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance is effective only for losses incurred as the result of a disaster, adverse weather, or other environmental condition that occurs on or before September 30, 2011. Five disaster assistance programs are included:

Supplemental Revenue Program (SURE) makes payments to eligible producers on farms in disaster counties that incurred crop production or crop-quality losses or both during the crop year. SURE provides payments of 60 percent of the difference (greater than zero) between the disaster assistance program guarantee revenue and actual total farm revenue.

The disaster assistance program guarantee is the sum of:
  • 115 percent of the insured value of each insurable commodity
  • insured value = 100 percent of price election x acres insured x coverage level x yield, where yield is the higher of the adjusted actual production history yield or the counter-cyclical payment (CCP) program yield
  • 120 percent of value of noninsurable commodity(ies) = 100 percent of NAP price x acres planted x the higher of the adjusted NAP yield or the CCP program yield

Actual total farm revenue is the sum of the following:

Livestock Indemnity Program makes payments available to eligible producers for livestock death losses, in excess of normal mortality, resulting from adverse weather. The indemnity payment rate is 75 percent of market value of applicable livestock on the day before death, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.

Livestock Forage Disaster Program payments are available to eligible producers of covered livestock for grazing losses because of drought or fire on public managed land. Payment rates are based on monthly feed costs.

The monthly feed cost equals the product of the following:

  • 30 days
  • The feed-grain equivalent of 15.7 pounds of corn per day for an adult beef cow, or for any other weight of livestock, a value that represents the average number of pounds of corn per day necessary to feed the livestock as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture
  • A payment rate that is equal to the corn price per pound: 56 pounds per bushel multiplied by the higher of the national average corn price per bushel for the 12-month or 24-month period immediately preceding March 1 of the year for which the disaster assistance is calculated

Emergency Assistance Program for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish provides emergency relief to eligible producers of livestock, honey bees, and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, adverse weather, or other conditions not covered by the Livestock Indemnity Program or by the Livestock Forage Disaster Program. Total payments are limited to $50 million per year.


Orchard and Nursery Tree Assistance Program provides assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers for trees lost to natural disasters. Assistance includes reimbursement of 70 percent of the cost of replanting trees in excess of normal mortality and reimbursement of 50 percent of the cost of salvaging damaged trees and preparing land to replant trees.

For More Information...

 

Last updated: Tuesday, March 11, 2014

For more information contact: Joseph Cooper, Anne Effland, and Erik O'Donoghue

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