WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that he has secured improvements to the Emergency Relief Program (ERP), the row crop disaster aid that Hoeven funded and has been working to get out to producers. Specifically, the senator has been working to resolve an issue where some producers with 2020 prevent plant claims had those losses inadvertently excluded from their pre-filled ERP application. As a result of Hoeven’s efforts, FSA will be issuing corrected applications to affected producers in August. At the same time, FSA will begin sending applications to producers for whom additional information was needed to determine 2021 losses, including producers utilizing the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) and Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO). The agency is also extending the deadline for producers to submit their phase 1 ERP applications to at least 30 days after the final mailings are sent.
After hearing concerns from producers, Hoeven repeatedly raised the prevent plant issue with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie and Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. The senator:
· Held a meeting with Bonnie, Ducheneaux and North Dakota producers to outline the issue and stress the importance of ensuring ERP works for farmers and ranchers and effectively helps them offset their losses.
· Spoke with Ducheneaux again last week to drive home the importance of correcting the issue prior to the beginning of ERP phase 2.
· Joined his colleagues in pressing Vilsack to resolve issues with the implementation of ERP.
In addition, Hoeven continues to urge USDA officials to resolve issues regarding the adjusted gross income (AGI) calculation used to determine payment limit eligibility.
“This fix to the prevent plant issue under ERP helps ensure that farmers who faced excessive moisture in crop year 2020, but which had been reported by adjustors as a 2019 loss, can participate in the program and recover their losses. With more than two and a half million acres of prevent plant in 2020, fixing this issue was critical for producers across the state,” said Hoeven “At the same time, we continue our efforts to ensure ERP implementation is working for our farmers and will keep making the case to USDA for addressing issues impacting our producers, including problems with the AGI requirements.”
Securing Disaster Assistance
In September, Hoeven secured $10 billion in agriculture disaster aid, including $750 million for livestock producers. The senator then repeatedly pressed Secretary Vilsack to get the assistance to producers as soon as possible, with the aid currently being distributed under the ERP and the Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP).
USDA began sending out ELRP phase-one assistance in February, with payments set at 75% of producers’ 2021 Livestock Forage Program (LFP) payment. Phase two will begin later this year.
USDA also began sending pre-filled applications for ERP phase one to producers in May, with payments having started last month. To date, North Dakota producers have received $928 million in ERP assistance. Details will be released later this year for ERP phase two, which will compensate producers not paid under the first phase for their eligible losses.