Courtesy of NAA:
Winter Storm Elliot delivered severe cold weather across much the United States. For farms that experienced aquatic animal livestock losses the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm Raised Fish Program (ELAP) may be of help. ELAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or loss conditions, including blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary.
On June 1, 2021, ELAP was expanded beyond baitfish and gamefish to include all farmed aquatic animals except for alligator, turtles and certain very early life stages. The program expansion provided, for the first time, a truly effective catastrophic disaster assistance program for US aquaculture.
If you are not familiar with ELAP, then the NAA recommends viewing a 43-minute webinar posted in June 2021 describing eligibility, annual acreage reporting, general application process and required livestock loss documentation. To access the recording, click here. Important points to consider:
- Farms that experienced a loss must reach out to their Farm Service Agency County Office and file a CCC-934, notice of loss, within 30 days of when the losses are apparent to the producer. Unfortunately, because Winter Elliot Storm occurred in December, the deadline to file a final loss claim is January 30, 2023 for the 2022 calendar year.
- Farmers that are socially disadvantaged, limited resource, beginning or are veterans qualify for a higher reimbursement percentage. To qualify, complete CCC-860.
- Farms registered for the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) can file claims for NAP and ELAP simultaneously.
To find your county office, click on State Offices (usda.gov). Then click on your state followed by county to find your county office. Ask for an employee that is familiar with ELAP. If the FSA employee responds that you are not qualified, inform them that aquaculture is a qualified and file a notice of loss.
Following a qualified natural disaster and filed ELAP claims, the agency will reach out to anyone they assume is knowledgeable, or accept comments from farmers not involved in aquaculture, to inform their decision making. To anticipate false information, we suggest:
- Talking to the knowledgeable aquaculture extension representatives that you work with now about this program. Alert them that the agency may contact them for production, normal mortality and market price information after a disaster and strongly suggest they should exercise caution in responding to agency inquiry. Anything they may say, even off-the-cuff remarks, may be accepted by the agency as fact.
- It is very difficult to persuade the agency that information from sources they contact, other than the impacted farmers or truly knowledgeable individuals, is outdated or uninformed.
If the wheels come off the wagon and the agency reaches a decision based upon inaccurate or uninformed information, then you can challenge a claim denial or inadequately paid claim within 30-days by filing an appeal at county, state or national levels. This process has no fees and an attorney does not have to be involved, but you have to be organized and clearly and thoroughly present normal mortality and price documentation. Preparing a timeline of events and retaining copies of communication will be very valuable during an appeal.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact the National Aquaculture Association Office at email@example.com or 850-216-2400.