Beekeepers in line for biggest share of ELAP disaster aid

By Daniel Enoch

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2014 - Almost 2,500 applicants will receive disaster assistance aid through the USDA's Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), according to the USDA.

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The aid will cover losses suffered from Oct. 1, 2011, through Sept. 30, 2013, USDA said Monday in a news release. ELAP, reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, provides disaster relief to producers mentioned in the program's title not covered by other 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.

"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," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the release. "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. The funds will hopefully help producers with some of the financial losses they sustained during that time."

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.

In addition to providing disaster relief ranchers and farmers, USDA cited numerous other areas in which it has made “significant progress” in implement Farm Bill provisions. They include strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities.

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