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USDA unveils online planning tool to help drought-stricken producers

The USDA has launched a new planning tool to help drought-stricken farmers and ranchers mitigate its impacts.   Earlier this year the USDA updated the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) to include covering feed transportation costs caused by drought.

Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux says the ELAP Feed Transportation Tool helps producers estimate payments to cover feed transportation costs caused by drought.  “As we built that program out, it became apparent that it would be helpful if we had a tool for producers where they could go on the internet, jump in there, punch in their numbers and get an idea what their payment is going to be like for planning purposes,” he says. 

He tells Brownfield the goal is to make it an easy-to-use, producer verified program.  “The producer will need to have some backup information, should they become subject to one of our spot checks to maintain program integrity,” he says.  “But we’re trying to really whittle this down to make it as easy for the producer as we can make it.”

Ducheneaux says an area qualifies for coverage if drought intensity has been D2 for eight consecutive weeks as indicated by the US Drought Monitor or a drought intensity of D3 or greater.

The tool requires Microsoft Excel and if farmers have questions, Ducheneaux says they can contact their local FSA County office. And while the tool does calculate the estimated payment for feed transportation assistance, it is not an application.  However, to simplify the application process, farmers and ranchers can print or email payment estimates generated by the tool for submission to FSA.  The deadline to apply for ELAP is January 31, 2022.   

To use the tool farmers and ranchers will need: the number of truckloads for this year, mileage per truckload this year, share of feed cost this year (if splitting loads), number of truckloads you normally haul, normal mileage per truckload, and share of normal feed cost. 

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