AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published multiple updates regarding low-interest physical loss loans, drought or wildfire livestock producer payments, and conservation reserve program availability for agricultural producers. These programs, according to the USDA, may offer farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural producers resources for recovering from the impacts of natural disasters such as drought conditions and wildfires.

Physical Loss Loans

The USDA published that in the wake of wildfires that occurred from January 14, 2022, and onward, low-interest physical loss loans have been made available for producers in numerous counties across the High Plains and other regions of Texas. With an application deadline of Nov. 29, the USDA said that these loans could assist in replacing or repairing property such as farm buildings, real estate fixtures, equipment, livestock, perennial crops, fruit and nut-bearing trees, and harvested or stored crops and hay.

The USDA listed the ‘primary’ counties eligible for these loans which included:

  • Brooks
  • Brown
  • Coleman
  • Duval
  • Eastland
  • Erath
  • Grayson
  • Hood
  • Mills
  • Potter
  • Randall
  • Runnels
  • Young

However, the USDA noted that other areas across Texas – alongside Bryan, Love, and Marshall Counties in Oklahoma – have also been registered as eligible for the loans.

On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact your local  USDA Service Center.

Payments for livestock producers impacted by drought or wildfire

The USDA announced in March that ranchers who had approved applications through the 2021 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) for forage losses due to severe drought or wildfire in 2021 would be receiving emergency relief payments for increases in supplemental feed costs through the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP)

“Producers of grazing livestock experienced catastrophic losses of available forage as well as higher costs for supplemental feed in 2021. Unfortunately, the conditions driving these losses have not improved for many and have even worsened for some, as drought spreads across the U.S.,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “In order to deliver much-needed assistance as efficiently as possible, phase one of the ELRP will use certain data from the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), allowing USDA to distribute payments within days to livestock producers.” 

According to the USDA, the FSA received more than 100,000 applications totaling nearly $670 million in payments to livestock producers under LFP for the 2021 program year.

Enrollment open for Grassland Conservation Reserve Program

The USDA encouraged producers and landowners to enroll in the Grassland Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which will be open for applications through May 13. According to the USDA, Grassland CRP was intended to provide the opportunity for farmers, ranchers, and agricultural landowners to keep land in agricultural production and supplement their income while improving soils and permanent grass cover.

Grassland CRP was described by the USDA as a federally funded voluntary working lands program. Through the program, the USDA said annual rental payments are provided to landowners to maintain and conserve grasslands while allowing producers to graze, hay, and produce seed on the land. Maintaining the existing permanent cover provides benefits including reducing erosion, providing wildlife habitat and migration corridors, and capturing and maintaining carbon in the soil and cover.

“Grassland CRP is an important working lands conservation tool that offers a win-win to both our country’s producers and the environment by supporting and enabling grazing activities, while at the same time promoting plant and animal biodiversity and stemming rangeland conversion,” said Eddie Trevino, acting FSA State Executive Director in Texas. “We had a successful signup last year, and we look forward to broadening our base and working with new producers, particularly our historically underserved producers, to ensure they can access the program and its many benefits.”  

FSA provides those participating with annual rental payments and cost-share assistance, according to the USDA publication. The annual rental rate varies by county, but the national minimum rental rate was noted as at around $13 per acre. The contract duration was estimated to be 10 to 15 years.

The USDA said that landowners and producers interested in Grassland CRP should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more or to apply for the program before the May 13 deadline.  Additionally, fact sheets and other resources are available at fsa.usda.gov/crp.