USDA to offer $6 billion in relief

| May 30, 2022 1:00 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced via press release in early May that it will make $6 billion in relief payments to commodity and specialty crop growers affected by natural disasters in 2020 and 2021 as a way of offsetting losses from reduced yields and lower prices.

The emergency payments are part of $10 billion in assistance to farmers affected by wildfire, drought, hurricanes, winter storms and other disasters. The aid was passed into law by Congress last November as part of a spending bill intended to keep the government running, and are separate from another set of payments made to farmers and ranchers affected by drought and wildfire made under a different law.

“For over two years, farmers and ranchers across the country have been hard hit by an ongoing pandemic coupled with more frequent and catastrophic natural disasters,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsak said in the press release. “These emergency payments will help offset the significant crop losses due to major weather events in 2020 and 2021 and help ensure farming operations are viable this crop year, into next growing season and beyond.”

To be eligible, farmers must live in a county that has suffered severe drought for at least eight consecutive weeks or extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a joint venture of USDA, the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, and the University of Nebraska.

According to the press release, USDA’s Farm Service Administration will send out pre-filled applications to producers with crop insurance and non-insured disaster assistance program information already on file. However, anyone needing more information should contact their local FSA office. In Grant County, that phone number is 509-754-2463 in Ephrata, and in Adams County, the phone number is 509-659-1761 in Ritzville.