If you’re a livestock producer, you know how unpredictable and harsh the weather can be. Droughts, wildfires, storms, and other natural disasters can decimate your pastureland and livestock, putting your livelihood at risk. It’s enough to make you want to pack it all up and become a beach bum (which sounds pretty appealing on days when you’re knee-deep in mud and cow manure). But before you hand in your hat and head for the nearest beach, Check out the benefits available through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP) program.
Offered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), ELAP provides financial assistance to livestock producers affected by eligible adverse weather or loss conditions. These conditions include (but are not limited to) droughts, floods, hurricanes, lightning, tidal surges, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires on non-federal land. And let’s be real here – if you’re a livestock producer, you’ve probably experienced at least one or two of these things in your time.
So, what makes ELAP different from other assistance programs? For starters, it provides assistance for livestock feed and grazing losses, as well as transportation costs incurred by producers. This means that if you had to purchase additional feed to sustain your livestock during a natural disaster, ELAP can help cover those costs. And if you had to transport your animals to safer pastures or haul in feed from further away, ELAP can help with those transportation costs, too.
ELAP calculates payment for feed and grazing losses based on a variety of factors, such as the type of loss and the value of the livestock. For example, if you lost a herd of cows due to a wildfire, the assistance you receive will depend on the number of cows that died and their market value at the time of the loss. ELAP will also cover a maximum of 150 calendar days for both feed and grazing losses, so it’s important to act quickly if you’ve experienced a loss.
ELAP also helps producers with transportation costs for livestock or feed during an eligible adverse weather or loss condition. USDA will reimburse eligible producers 60% of these transportation costs, with underserved producers (such as socially disadvantaged, limited resource, beginning, or military veteran producers) eligible for 90% reimbursement. The calculation will exclude the normal cost of transporting livestock or feed if the producer normally purchases some feed or normally transports livestock. It will also exclude the first 25 miles and distances exceeding 1,000 transportation miles and will use a national cost formula to determine reimbursement costs. Basically, if you had to go above and beyond your normal operations to keep your animals safe and fed during a disaster, ELAP can help with some of those extra costs.
ELAP will also assist producers with the additional cost of transporting water to eligible livestock during a drought. Payment for losses resulting from transporting water will be based on a minimum of 60% of either the total value of the cost to transport water to eligible livestock for 150 days, or the total value of the cost to transport water for the entire program year. So if you’re dealing with a drought and your animals are thirsty, ELAP can help with the cost of hauling in water to keep them hydrated.
One thing to keep in mind when applying for ELAP assistance is that payments are calculated based on a minimum of 60% of the lesser of the total value of either the feed cost for all covered livestock or the grazing loss for eligible livestock. This means that if your feed costs are higher than the value of lost grazing, ELAP will cover 60% of the feed costs. On the other hand, if your grazing losses are higher than your feed costs, ELAP will cover 60% of the grazing losses. It’s a way to ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep detailed records of your losses, as this will make it easier to document your claim and maximize your assistance from ELAP. This includes keeping track of receipts for emergency expenses, such as feed and water for stranded livestock, and taking photographs and videos to document the extent of the loss.
Can the ELAP program help you? Subscribers to Ag Funding Assistance will receive convenient printable pdf forms, contact information for all programs, and text message reminders 5 days prior to deadlines and closing dates to help you apply for ELAP through your local FSA office.
It’s a lifeline that can help you get through tough times and keep your operations afloat.