US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says his agency is using crop data to figure out how much money grain farmers should receive for disaster relief. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
OMAHA — Nebraska agricultural producers have received $123 million of the $4 billion distributed nationally so far through a federal Emergency Relief Program designed to offset their losses due to natural disasters over the past two years.
The program, along with another for livestock relief, are funded by the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law last year. Congress set aside $10 billion to help agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms and other eligible disasters in 2020 and 2021.
John Berge, executive director of Nebraska’s U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, said natural disaster events have resulted in “catastrophic production and property losses” in Nebraska.
“Although these payments will not make these producers whole, they will help alleviate some of the financial stressors brought on by these severe and devastating weather events,” said Berge.
The federal government is implementing the emergency relief in two phases. The first phase uses existing claims data. Prefilled applications were sent out to producers with crop insurance who suffered losses; producers have until July 22 to submit those.
The second phase focuses on ensuring that producers not covered by other programs receive assistance.
The Farm Service Agency earlier announced payments to ranchers through the Emergency Livestock Relief Program. Nationally, eligible livestock producers have received payments totaling more than $590 million since late March, with livestock producers in Nebraska receiving $14.9 million in ELRP payments, the FSA says.
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