USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey Tours Wildfires, Announces Changes to FSA Disaster ProgramsMon, 23 Apr 2018 18:21:20 CDT
Bill Northey, United States Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, met with producers impacted by the recent wildfires in northwest Oklahoma Monday. He spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn about how his mission area at the USDA including the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency is working to improve the Department’s emergency programs to assist producers in the recovery process from natural disasters like the recent fires. Listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“Certainly, I am very impressed with the work that’s gone on here to prepare people and getting support services together for fighting those fires, but the challenge now is addressing those folks who lost livestock, fences, that lost homes… we’re in another stage here,” he said, adding some possible solutions that will be considered in the future to reduce the threat of fire. “We’ve had some conversations about trying to make sure fire loads are down in the future and we’ve also talked about more flexibility with the CRP and the importance of the CSP program in Oklahoma. We’re trying to capture as much as we can while we’re here.”
Since the fires began, Northey says he has been in close contact with Oklahoma’s Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese, making himself available to help where he could - authorizing grazing and haying on CRP land to make available more forage and at the same time reduce the fire load. Furthermore, Northey made some other announcements during his tour that will significantly help producers moving forward.
According to Northey, Oklahoma producers who planted wheat after the final planting date in October for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) may still be eligible this year for payments at a reduced rate. As one of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s disaster assistance programs, LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses because of drought or fire.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) also moved the 2019 final planting date to Oct. 15 for Oklahoma producers, which was formerly Oct. 1 or Oct. 10, depending on the county in Oklahoma.
“Prolonged severe drought and wildfires have impacted the availability of adequate forage and water sources for livestock and, in some cases, impacted 2018 cropping decisions for many ranchers and farmers,” Northey said. “USDA offers several disaster programs intended to provide relief to producers affected by severe weather conditions, and we want to make it easy for producers to use these tools to recover.”
While the final planting date for the 2018 crop year will not change, county committees in Oklahoma are now authorized to adjust livestock carrying capacity under LFP for late-planted wheat, which is similar to the process used under the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). Beginning next year, Oklahoma producers will be allowed to plant small seeded grains for forage like wheat later in the fall and still be eligible for payments under the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP).
“Today, we’re talking to folks who have had great losses and been through a lot, but they intend to be here for the long-term and they intend to be able to offer the opportunity to their kids to be involved,” he said, referencing USDA’s support to victims. “With tough, good, smart people working on the farm - that’s what’s going to make things work.
“Now, are we going to have bad weather? Yeah… Are we going to have markets that go up and down? Yeah… Are we going to have a lot of unpredictable things happen? Sure. The only way you’re going to counter that is with great people.”
Oklahoma producers interested in LFP or other USDA disaster assistance programs should contact their local USDA service center: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/ok.
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