Streamlined delivery of emergency relief programs is a win-win for USDA and agricultural producers

New Program Outperforms Previous Disaster Program in Speed ​​of Assistance and Nearly 90% Reduction in Claims Burden, Online Analysis Now Available

WASHINGTON, August 4, 2022 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has processed more than 255,000 applications for the new Emergency Relief Program (ERP). The USDA has provided approximately $6.1 billion, to date, in payments to commodity and specialty crop growers to help offset eligible losses from eligible natural disasters in 2020 and 2021. Removing barriers of the agency, using existing data through the USDA and pre-populated applications, the USDA Agricultural Services Agency (FSA) in cooperation with the Risk Management Agency (RMA) has been able to quickly provide economic relief and save producers and staff over millions of hours of time.

“The rapid manner in which these emergency relief programs have been developed and executed ensures prompt delivery of program benefits to producers, responsible use of taxpayer dollars, and equates to time savings for our customers and the USDA staff,” the USDA Undersecretary for Agricultural Production said. and Conservation Robert Bonnie. “Reducing the time spent collecting information that we already have elsewhere at USDA or through crop insurance means our team has more bandwidth to reach and support new customers. Our streamlined and successful implementation of ERP demonstrates the creativity, dedication and willingness of the USDA team to break down traditional divisions between agencies and solve complex information technology challenges to advance the common goal better serve farmers and ranchers.

The design of the first phase of the ERP allowed for an accelerated process that saved time for staff and producers. The FSA was able to start disbursing payments to producers within days of rolling out the scheme whereas under the previous scheme lengthy applications and processing were required before making payments. FSA county offices can process nearly nine ERP requests in the time it took to process a claim for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program – Plus (WHIP+), the predecessor program for ad hoc assistance in cases of disaster. This equates to 88% less request processing time and a reduction of over a million man hours for ERP implementation compared to WHIP+. Although not specifically tracked, we expect the savings to producers to be at least as great as before they would have had a significant burden to collect records and sit often in front of local staff when entering data.

These process improvements have also improved the customer experience for farmers by reducing the number of trips producers make to FSA county offices and allowing producers to spend less time filling out forms so they can concentrate. more about their agricultural operations. In addition, the design of the ERP program significantly reduced the potential risk of errors and leveraged existing RMA and Federal Crop Insurance adjustment and loss verification processes. With more applications approved, more dollars distributed, and more dollars paid per application in a shorter time frame, the streamlined application process developed to deliver the ERP has significantly outperformed the previous WHIP+ implementation. The FSA has also paid over $1 billion to historically underserved producers.

Emergency relief payments to date

Efforts to streamline, improve responsiveness, and work across traditional agency boundaries go beyond the recent ERP process. The FSA mailed pre-populated ERP applications to producers of commodities covered by federal crop insurance in late May and has since paid producers more than $6 billion in eligible losses. Pre-populated ERP applications have been mailed to growers with uninsured Farm Disaster Assistance (NAP) coverage, and so far the FSA has already paid out $35.9 million in payments to producers who have suffered eligible losses. NAP-related ERP payments have also not been factored in and are made in full from the outset to accelerate and target assistance to underserved small-scale producers who typically rely on NAP coverage. Additionally, earlier this year staff processed more than 100,000 payments through the Livestock Emergency Relief Program (ELRP) and paid eligible producers more than $601.3 million for losses. pasture of 2021 a few days after the announcement of the program.

ERP data is now available online

A new public dashboard on the ERP web page contains information about ERP payments that can be sorted by type of crop – specialized or non-specialized, specific products and status. The FSA will update the scoreboard on Monday of each week.

More information

The previously announced ERP and ELRP are funded by the Public Funding Extension and Emergency Assistance Delivery Actwhich President Biden signed into law in 2021. The law provided $10 billion to help agricultural producers affected by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms and other qualifying disasters experienced in calendar years 2020 and 2021.

For more information on ERP and ELRP eligibility, program provisions for historically underserved producers as well as frequently asked questions, producers can visit the FSA website. Emergency Relief Web Page.

Additional USDA Disaster Assistance information is available at farmers.govincluding the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster Fact Sheet at a Glance (PDF, 1.4 MB) and Agricultural Loan Discovery Tool. For FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Service programs, growers should contact their USDA Service Center. For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent.

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