South Plains producers: federal assistance ‘couldn’t have come at a better time’

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 9:59 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The federal government is pushing $6 billion dollars out to growers recovering from natural disasters. South Plains producers say the relief is coming at just the right time. Last month, the USDA announced producers should see relief payments hit their bank accounts soon.

The Farm Service Agency, or FSA, is calling this the Emergency Relief Program. It’s part of the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 117-43). Congress passed the act in September to help agricultural producers hit by natural disasters in 2020 and 2021. Shawn Wade, director of policy analysis and research at Plains Cotton Growers, says here on the South Plains that disaster has been a severe drought.

“The biggest majority of this relief is kind of tied to what happened out in this area in 2020 and that was a situation where producers got, we had drought conditions, we had a pretty short crop,” Wade said.

Wade says that lead to economic strife for producers, some carrying over debt into the next season. To help make up that shortfall, the federal government is sending out emergency relief payments.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time. You know, this is one of those times of the year where producers really are kind of a little bit short on cash sometimes, and so with fuel and all the other inputs, this is going to be very helpful for them as they move forward in ‘22,” Wade said.

Producers who had insurance loss in 2020 or 2021 should have received a letter in the mail documenting their losses and how much assistance they should get. Wade says actually getting that money should be a pretty quick process.

“All the producers need to do is, you know, check a few boxes, make sure some of those numbers are right, add a few little pieces of information and get it back to FSA. And then that money can be, you know, forwarded on out to them basically through an automatic bank transfer,” Wade said.

While the South Plains has seen some rain, Wade says growers are a long way from an ideal situation. He says making it through this season will take lots of input costs for things like weed control, fertilizer and fuel.

“So, this money will be very much helpful to producers as they kind of try to navigate the next few months and hopefully bring a crop in that can take advantage of the the good market situation that we have right now, with prices being, you know, over the dollar mark,” Wade said.

The government recently made payments to ranchers impacted by drought and wildfire in a similar program. If producers have already turned in their application, the USDA says they should see payments soon. If not, Wade says the deadline for the first phase for producers to get their applications to the FSA is July 22.

Wade lays out the Emergency Relief Program’s payment calculations here: https://plainscotton.org/downloads/Emergency_Relief_Program.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1JtegJyRKA4bnp9cIEmIfFScin315VUweDNUT5NgdXaZdmUP1_cFO5NKk.

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