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USDA: Livestock, honeybee, fish producers to get disaster assistance

The Agriculture Department announced this week that nearly 2,500 applicants will receive disaster assistance through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) for losses suffered from Oct. 1, 2011, through Sept. 30, 2013.

The program, re-authorized by the 2014 farm bill, provides disaster relief to livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish producers not covered by other agricultural disaster assistance programs.

Eligible losses may include excessive heat or winds, flooding, blizzards, hail, wildfires, lightning strikes, volcanic eruptions, and diseases, or in the case of honeybees, losses due to colony collapse disorder. Beekeepers, most of whom suffered honeybee colony losses, represent more than half of ELAP recipients, USDA said in a news release.

The farm bill caps ELAP disaster funding at $20 million per federal fiscal year.

To accommodate the number of requests, which exceeded funds available for each of the affected years, payments will be reduced to ensure that all eligible applicants receive a prorated share of assistance, USDA said.

“As promised, we're making sure that thousands of producers who suffered through two and a half difficult years without farm bill assistance, are getting some relief,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“Once the farm bill was restored, not only did we implement the disaster assistance programs in record time, we’re issuing payments less than three months after the enrollment deadline.”