Hay truck

USDA has expanded a program to help producers with the costs of hauling feed and water.

USDA is expanding the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program to cover the cost of feed transportation for drought-impacted producers.

The action is in response to the severe drought conditions in the West and Great Plains.

ELAP already covers the cost of hauling water during drought, and this change will expand the program beginning in 2021 to cover feed transportation costs where grazing and hay resources have been depleted.

This assistance applies to places where drought intensity is D2 for eight consecutive weeks as indicated by the U.S. Drought Monitor, drought intensity is D3 or greater or USDA has determined a shortage of local or regional feed availability.

Cost share assistance will also be made available to cover eligible costs of treating hay or feed to prevent the spread of invasive pests like fire ants.

Eligible ranchers will be reimbursed 60% of feed transportation costs above what would have been incurred in a normal year. Producers qualifying as underserved will be reimbursed for 90% of the feed transportation cost above what would have been incurred in a normal year.

A national cost formula, as established by USDA, will be used to determine reimbursement costs, which will not include the first 25 miles and distances exceeding 1,000 transportation miles.

The calculation will also exclude the normal cost to transport hay or feed if the producer normally purchases some feed. For 2021, the initial cost formula of $6.60 per mile will be used but may be adjusted on a state or regional basis.

To be eligible for ELAP assistance, livestock must be intended for grazing and producers must have incurred feed transportation costs on or after Jan. 1, 2021.

Although producers will self-certify losses and expenses, they are encouraged to maintain good records and retain receipts and related documentation in the event these documents are requested for review by the local Farm Service Agency county committee.

The deadline to file an application for payment for the 2021 program year is Jan. 31, 2022.

FSA will provide more details and tools to help ranchers get ready to apply at their local USDA Service Center later this month at www.fsa.usda.gov/elap .

Sign up for our Top Stories newsletter

Recommended for you