This summer's intense drought conditions are a substantial burden to many Montana ag producers. In addition to forcing difficult decisions about crops and livestock, the drought contributes to wildfire risk and affects water availability and quality nationwide.
Senator Tester is leading a bipartisan effort to establish a drought task force to help Montanans and Americans affected by this summer's drought. He is also calling on the United States Department of Agriculture to improve the accuracy of the drought monitor it uses to measure drought severity.
Drought Disaster Declaration
The Secretary of Agriculture may designate counties as disaster areas to make emergency loans to producers suffering losses in those counties and in counties that are contiguous to a designated county. In Montana, these counties are:
Lewis & Clark*
*Indicates county is eligible for assistance because it is adjacent to a disaster county.
More counties may be added to the list as the drought incident progresses.
Drought Assistance Programs
The Emergency Loan Program provides loans to help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding, other natural disasters, or quarantine. Click here for emergency loan data by state and fiscal year.
The Disaster Debt Set-Aside Program provides producers who have existing direct loans with FSA who are unable to make the scheduled payments to move up to one full year's payment to the end of the loan. Click here for disaster debt set-aside data by state and fiscal year.
The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) provides assistance to producers if their land was damaged by a natural disaster and needs conservation practices.
The Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) provides assistance for crop losses when federal crop insurance is not available.
The Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program is also available to producers who suffered crop losses in counties declared a disaster by the Secretary of Agriculture. SURE is currently expired. Sen. Tester has introduced legislation to restore the program, retroactive to cover this year's losses.
The Livestock Forage Disaster Assistance Program (LFP) provides cash payments to eligible producers who suffered grazing losses because of drought. LFP is currently expired. Sen. Tester has introduced legislation to restore the program, retroactive to cover this year's losses.
The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm- Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides assistance for grazing losses due to blizzards and wildfires which are not adequately addressed by other disaster programs. Assistance for feed losses is also available. ELAP is currently expired. Sen. Tester has introduced legislation to restore the program, retroactive to cover this year's losses.
The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) provides cash payments to eligible producers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. LIP is currently expired. Sen. Tester has introduced legislation to restore the program, retroactive to cover this year's losses.
Haying and Grazing of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres allows producers to hay or graze CRP acreage during an emergency.
Haying and Grazing Resources
Emergency haying and grazing in Montana
- On Aug. 29, 2012, Secretary Vilsack announced a two-month extension for approved emergency grazing for general CRP practices for the eligible 51 out of 56 Montana counties.
- 200,000 additional CRP acres are now eligible upon Aug. 3rd approval by the STC and State Technical Committee to allow previously ineligible practices. 51 out of 56 counties are approved. Counties NOT approved are: Liberty, Lincoln, Mineral, Sanders and Toole. All but Glacier were approved because they are at least a DO (Abnormally Dry). Glacier qualified as a secretarial authorization for emergency haying and grazing because it had a 40 percent or greater loss in precipitation and production for the last four full months.
- The ECP program is approved for "drought emergency measures" in Stillwater, Carbon, Yellowstone, Big Horn and Sweet Grass counties. Producers in these three counties who need assistance with water conservation and enhancement measures to 1.) permit grazing of range, pasture or forage by livestock; 2.) supply emergency water for existing irrigation systems serving orchards and vineyards; or 3.) provide emergency water for confined livestock operations should contact the county FSA county offices.