In an Aug. 25 announcement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it has made assistance available for “agricultural producers affected by the recent wildfires to help eligible farmers and ranchers reestablish their operations.”
Several Western states have suffered enormous losses, with California seeing approximately 1 million acres in flames.
In a prepared release, Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Protection and Conservation, was quoted as saying, “USDA is ready to offer all the assistance we can to the affected farmers. As a farmer myself, I’m proud to be able to deliver on our most important mission to support them in their time of need.”
As of Aug. 25, wildfires had burned more than 2 million acres, mostly in the Western states. “Nearly 28,000 personnel from the local, state and federal levels are responding to 157 separate incidents, 95 of which are large, uncontained fires,” the release said.
It continued with a quote from USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Jim Hubbard, who said, “Right now, more than 6,000 firefighters from the USDA Forest Service are battling wildfires across the nation alongside our local, state and federal partners. Our aggressive initial attack efforts have proven incredibly proficient in protecting the American people and our lands as crews continue to face unrelenting challenges such as high winds and dry lightning.”
In a continuing effort to serve the American people, USDA partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center. This central source of information utilizes a searchable knowledge base of disaster-related resources powered by agents with subject matter expertise. The Disaster Resource Center website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance. USDA also developed a disaster assistance discovery tool specifically targeted to rural and agricultural issues. The tool walks producers through five questions that generate personalized results identifying which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover from a natural disaster.
When major disasters strike, USDA has an emergency loan program that provides eligible farmers low-interest loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. USDA’s emergency loan program is triggered when a natural disaster is designated by the Secretary of Agriculture or a natural disaster or emergency is declared by the President under the Stafford Act. USDA also offers additional programs tailored to the needs of specific agricultural sectors to help producers weather the financial impacts of major disasters and rebuild their operations.
Producers of non-insurable crops who suffer crop losses, lower yields or are prevented from planting agricultural commodities may be eligible for assistance under USDA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program if the losses were due to natural disasters.
USDA also can provide financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. Assistance may also be available for emergency animal mortality disposal from natural disasters and other causes.