While the summer monsoons have alleviated the need for many to haul water or feed to cattle, the months leading up to these rains were painful for so many ranchers. We are very excited to see USDA listening to the stories we’ve shared about the impact of drought in the West and responding by adjusting existing programs to better meet ranchers’ needs. 

The Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, or ELAP, provides financial assistance for livestock producers based on natural disasters or weather events. In some regions, ELAP already covers the cost of hauling water during drought. And this week, USDA announced that they will expand the program beginning in 2021 to cover feed transportation costs where grazing and hay resources have been depleted. This includes 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.

 While we don’t know many details yet, we do know that eligibility will be limited to producers of grazing livestock who incurred feed transportation costs on or after January 1, 2021. Eligible ranchers will be reimbursed at 60 percent of feed transportation costs above what would have been incurred in a “normal” year, using an initial cost formula of $6.60 per mile. This cost formula will then be adjusted based on regional data.  

USDA will provide more details to help ranchers prepare their applications later this month. Keep an eye out on our blog or go to www.fsa.usda.gov/elap for the latest information.