Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Bruce Nelson traveled to South Texas last week in the midst of the historic drought impacting most of Texas and the Southwest and adversely affecting thousands of agricultural producers. Nelson took the opportunity to visit with area farmers, ranchers and agribusiness representatives who are working hard to keep their operations going in the face of the natural disaster. He made a point to reassure everyone that Secretary Vilsack and the USDA are committed to helping affected producers.
“As a farmer, I understand that our disaster assistance programs will not make a producer financially whole, but every little bit helps to offset some of the loss” said Nelson, “FSA programs are intended to provide an economic safety net. Without that net, those affected by disaster may not reach the next season.”
Nelson pointed out that America’s farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation’s economy, producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow and out-compete the rest of the world.
Texas continues to endure the hottest year in nearly three decades and the driest year in the state’s history. More than 91 percent of the state is indicated by the U.S. drought monitor as experiencing either extreme or exceptional drought conditions. In addition, more than 3 million acres of pastureland has burned from wildfires. The drought has led to a record $5.2 billion in agricultural losses largely to row crop and livestock producers, making it the most costly drought on record, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service economists.
FSA’s disaster assistance programs available to Texas producers include the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), Livestock Forage Program (LFP), Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payment (SURE), Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance (NAP), Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program (EFCRP), low interest Emergency Loans and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).
Additionally, FSA has approved 82 Texas counties for emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres and 79 counties for emergency haying on CRP ground to pride alternative sources of forage for livestock.
Recently, 214 counties in Texas received primary Secretarial Disaster Designations and the balance of 40 counties received contiguous designations — meaning that all 254 counties are now eligible for any and all USDA disaster assistance for which a Secretarial designation is required. Nelson stressed that whether a county receives a primary or contiguous designation is of no consequence when it comes to FSA’s assistance programs.
“As the drought continues in Texas and affects other parts of the Southwest, I want producers to keep in touch with their local USDA Service Centers and inquire about programs available to support them,” said Nelson. “This trip proved to met yet again that America’s farmers and ranchers are some of the most resilient businesspeople we have in the United States.”
For more information about FSA’s disaster assistance programs, visit www.fsa.usda.gov.