COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – The United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) released a reminder on Thursday that drought-impacted producers could be eligible for financial assistance to cover above-average expenses.

According to the FSA, producers could get that assistance through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), aimed at covering expenses such as:

  • Transporting water to livestock
  • Transporting feed to livestock
  • Transporting livestock to forage or grazing acres one-way

“Severe and widespread drought conditions are having a catastrophic impact on crops, grazing acres, livestock and agricultural operations statewide,” said Kelly Adkins, State Executive Director for FSA in Texas, “Livestock producers should check in with FSA to request available ELAP assistance to help offset the above normal economic impacts of providing water, feed and forage to carry livestock through these extremely harsh weather conditions.”

The FSA said that eligible livestock includes cattle, bison, goats, and sheep, among others, that are maintained for commercial use and located in a county where qualifying drought conditions occur. In order to qualify, a county must have had “D2” severe drought intensity on the US Drought Monitor for eight consecutive weeks during the normal grazing period, or “D3” or “D4” drought intensity at any time during grazing.

via the US Drought Monitor

In order to qualify for ELAP assistance, said FSA, producers must have risk in both eligible livestock and eligible grazing land in a qualifying county. For example, a producer in the Texas Panhandle who maintains cattle could qualify, as the majority of the region has remained in the throes of ongoing drought conditions.

Further information on ELAP assistance and eligibility can be found below.

Transporting Livestock

Livestock producers may be eligible for ELAP assistance when hauling livestock to a new location for feed resources because of insufficient feed or grazing in drought-impacted areas.

The payment formula is similar to the one used when transporting feed, and excludes the first 25 miles as well as any mileage over 1,000 miles. For example, a producer who travels 100 miles may get financial assistance for 75 of those miles covered. The reimbursement rate is 60% of the costs above what would normally have been incurred during the same time period in a non-drought year.

The FSA said that producers can use an online tool to document and estimate payments to cover feed and livestock transportation costs caused by the drought. A demonstration video on how to use the tool can be found here.

Transporting Water

For water transportation assistance, FSA said that producers must be transporting water to eligible livestock on eligible grazing land where adequate livestock watering systems or facilities were in place before the drought, and where water transportation is not normally required. The ELAP may cover costs associated with:

  • Personal labor
  • Equipment
  • Hired labor
  • Contracted water transportation fees

However, the FSA noted that the ELAP will not cover the cost of the water itself. The payment formula uses a national average price per gallon.

Transporting Feed

As mentioned above, the ELAP may provide financial assistance to producers who experience above-normal costs for transporting feed to livestock during drought. The payment formula is the same as with transporting livestock; It excludes the first 25 miles and any mileage over 1,000, and the disbursement rate is 60% of the costs above what would normally have been incurred during the same period in a non-drought year.

Reporting Losses

The FSA said that producers must submit a notice of loss to their local office within 30 calendar days of when the loss is apparent, beginning with the calendar year 2022 and going forward.

For ELAP eligibility, the FSA stressed that documentation of expenses is critical. Producers should maintain records and receipts associated with the costs of transporting water, feed, and livestock.

Producers can find their local FSA office using this tool.

Additional Assistance and Resources

According to the FSA, ELAP assistance is also available to producers impacted by wildfires. Additionally, beekeepers can benefit from ELAP provisions. For more information and assistance, producers should contact their local FSA office.

Aside from the ELAP, the FSA is accepting applications for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), aimed at providing financial assistance to eligible producers for 2022 grazing losses due to qualifying drought or fires. The deadline to apply is Jan. 30, 2023.

More than 200 Texas counties have met drought severity levels that trigger LFP eligibility for the 2022 program year, according to FSA. A full list of weekly eligible counties can also be found on the LFP homepage.

Further, the USDA hosts a database for disaster resources focused on preparing for and recovering from a list of emergencies including weather events, wildfires, and drought. The Texas Department of Agriculture also offers a number of grants and services focused on agricultural producers, and resources for supplies such as finding hay for livestock.

In the day-to-day for producers on the High Plains, the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service has offered multiple conferences and meetings in the last few months on issues such as irrigation and drought management. The service also hosts resources focused on water education, conservation, resources, and solutions for agriculture, homeowners, and communities.