WASHINGTON, D.C.- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is encouraging producers who have suffered eligible disaster-related losses to act to secure assistance by Sept. 30, 2014, as congressionally mandated payment reductions will take place for producers who have not acted before that date. Livestock producers that have experienced grazing losses since October 2011 and may be eligible for benefits but have not yet contacted their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office should do so as soon as possible.
The Budget Control Act passed by Congress in 2011 requires USDA to implement reductions of 7.3 percent to the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) in the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2014. However, producers seeking LFP support who have scheduled appointments with their local FSA office before Oct. 1, even if the appointment occurs after Oct.1, will not see reductions in the amount of disaster relief they receive.
USDA is encouraging producers to register, request an appointment or begin a Livestock Forage Disaster Program application with their county FSA office before Oct. 1, 2014, to lock in the current zero percent sequestration rate. As an additional aid to qualified producers applying for LFP, the Farm Service's Agency has developed an online registration that enables farmers and ranchers to put their names on an electronic list before the deadline to avoid reductions in their disaster assistance. This is an alternative to visiting or contacting the county office. To place a name on the Livestock Forage Disaster Program list online, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/disaster-register.
Producers who already contacted the county office and have an appointment scheduled need do nothing more.
"In just four months since disaster assistance enrollments began, we've processed 240,000 applications to help farmers and ranchers who suffered losses," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Eligible producers who have not yet contacted their local FSA office should stop by or call their local FSA office, or sign up online before Oct. 1 when congressionally mandated payment reductions take effect. This will ensure they receive as much financial assistance as possible."
The Livestock Indemnity Program, the Tree Assistance Program and the Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program Frost Freeze payments will also be cut by 7.3 percent on Oct. 1, 2014. Unlike the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, applications for these programs must be fully completed by Sept. 30. FSA offices will prioritize these applications, but as the full application process can take several days or more to complete, producers are encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible.
The Livestock Forage Disaster Program compensates eligible livestock producers who suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire between Oct. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2014. Eligible livestock includes alpacas, beef cattle, buffalo, beefalo, dairy cattle, deer, elk, emus, equine, goats, llamas, poultry, reindeer, sheep or swine that have been or would have been grazing the eligible grazing land or pastureland. Producers forced to liquidate their livestock may also be eligible for program benefits.
Additionally, the 2014 Farm Bill eliminated the risk management purchase requirement. Livestock producers are no longer required to purchase coverage under the federal crop insurance program or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program to be eligible for Livestock Forage Disaster Program assistance.
To learn more about USDA disaster relief program, producers can review the 2014 Farm Bill fact sheet atwww.fsa.usda.gov/farmbill, the LFP program fact sheet, http://go.usa.gov/5JTk, or contact their local FSA office.
The Livestock Forage Disaster Program was made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
From time to time, Government Deal Funding will highlight programs that are not well known and could benefit you or someone you know. Keep in mind that eligibility requirements vary constantly and Congressional action may halt programs with little notice.
USDA Rural Repair and Rehab Grants
Purpose: The Very Low-Income Housing Repair program provides loans and grants to very low-income homeowners to repair, improve, or modernize their dwellings or to remove health and safety hazards.
Eligibility: To obtain a loan, homeowner-occupants must be unable to obtain affordable credit elsewhere and must have very low incomes, defined as below 50 percent of the area median income. They must need to make repairs and improvements to make the dwelling more safe and sanitary or to remove health and safety hazards. Grants are only available to homeowners who are 62 years old or older and cannot repay a Section 504 loan. For Income and Property Eligibility please see the USDA RD Eligibility Site.
Terms: Loans of up to $20,000 and grants of up to $7,500 are available. Loans are for up to 20 years at 1 percent interest. A real estate mortgage and full title services are required for loans of $7,500 or more. Grants may be recaptured if the property is sold in less than 3 years. Grant funds may be used only to pay for repairs and improvements resulting in the removal of health and safety hazards. A grant/loan combination is made if the applicant can repay part of the cost. Loans and grants can be combined for up to $27,500 in assistance.
Standards: Repaired properties do not need to meet other HCFP code requirements, but the installation of water and waste systems and related fixtures must meet local health department requirements. Water supply and sewage disposal systems should normally meet HCFP requirements. Not all the health and safety hazards in a home must be removed with Section 504 funds, provided that major health and safety hazards are removed. All work must meet local codes and standards.