The 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity program will help eligible farmers recover and re-build operations after the disasters caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage across the US.
USDA described 2017 as an “historic year” for natural disasters that produced flooding and drought, as well as mudslides and heavy smoke, which destroyed crops and impacted farmers’ livelihoods.
Those producers entitled to funds will be determined based on the size of the loss and the level of insurance coverage elected by the producer.
USDA’s agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue revealed the sign-up for the program would be open until 16 November.
“Our objective is to get relief funds into the hands of eligible producers as quickly as possible,” said Perdue. “We are making immediate, initial payments of up to 50% of the calculated assistance, so producers can pay their bills.”
Once sign-up begins, a producer will be asked to provide verifiable and reliable production records. If a producer is unable to provide production records, USDA will calculate the yield based on the county average yield.
Other organisations, such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, donated funds in excess of $1.4m earlier this year to help farmers recover from wildfires.
According to the organisations, the western region of Oklahoma lost 1,100 cattle from wildfires during April 2018 and losses had far exceeded the damage caused by wildfires in 2017. Last year’s wildfires in Oklahoma swept through 200,000 acres and killed more than 3,000 cattle.