USDA Announces Disaster Assistance for 2020 and 2021

New disaster relief aid to help with recovery assistance (photo by Zach Worrell)
May 16, 2022
WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $6 billion Emergency Relief Program (ERP), the new disaster recovery assistance program for agricultural producers.  Funding for ERP was provided by Congress as part of the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act that was signed into law by President Biden on September 30, 2021.  Previous iterations of similar programs were known as the Wildfire Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP) and WHIP Plus.

Covering eligible natural disasters, including wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms, freeze (including a polar vortex), smoke exposure, excessive moisture, qualifying drought, and related conditions, in calendar years 2020 and 2021, the first phase of the program will provide assistance to producers using available data from Federal Crop Insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).

In an effort to streamline the application process, the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) will send producers pre-filled applications where crop insurance and NAP data are already on file.  Separate application forms will be sent for each program year.  USDA cautions that receipt of an application form is not a guarantee of eligibility.  Additionally, certain forms must be on file with FSA within 60 days of the application deadline, which will be announced at a later date.

Phase One payments for crops covered by crop insurance are prorated at 75 percent.  Payment calculations under ERP Phase One are dependent on the crop insurance type and coverage level obtained by a producer, with ERP payment factors ranging from 70 to 95 percent.  If at least 75 percent of a producer’s average adjusted gross income (AGI) is derived from farming, ranching, or forestry activities, producers are eligible to receive $250,000 per program year.  Additionally, as a part of the payment calculation, producers’ paid premiums and service fees will be subtracted from the gross crop insurance indemnity already received for those losses.

Producers receiving assistance from ERP Phase One will be required to purchase Federal crop insurance for the next two available crop years at a coverage level equal to or greater than 60 percent for insurable crops.

ERP Phase Two assistance details will be announced later but is designed to fill gaps and misses from Phase One assistance.