Beginning later this month, farmers across the nation will receive around $6 billion in disaster relief for losses due to catastrophic weather and wildfires, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday.
The money, part of $10 billion earmarked for agricultural disasters, would be paid through the new Emergency Relief Program (ERP) to offset lower yields and value losses, said the Agriculture Department.
ERP covers losses to crops, trees, bushes and vines due to disasters in 2020 and 2021 such as wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, drought and exposure to smoke.
Payments were expected to go to more than 220,000 farmers who have received crop insurance indemnities and more than 4,000 farmers who were aided by the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, for production not eligible for crop insurance.
Earlier this year, the USDA said it would pay at least $577 million in disaster aid to offset forage losses due to severe drought or wildfires last year. The assistance came from the Emergency Livestock Relief Program, a companion to ERP.
A second round of payments through ERP and ELRP will be made later this year, said USDA, to “fill gaps and cover producers who did not participate in or receive payments through the existing programs that are being leveraged for phase one implementation.”