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Risk Management Agency extends its aid efforts over drought

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With widespread drought conditions continuing to devastate many parts of the country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that its Risk Management Agency will authorize Approved Insurance Providers to extend deadlines for premium and administrative fee payments, defer and waive the resulting interest accrual, and allow other flexibilities.

Farmers and ranchers now have additional time to pay premium and administrative fees, and interest will be waived for 60 days or the termination date on the policy, whichever comes first. The RMA also authorized insurance providers to waive interest for an additional 60 days for Written Payment Agreements due between August 1 and September 30, 2021.

“Farmers and ranchers are weathering tough drought conditions this year, and we want to help ease the burden by extending payment deadlines and deferring interest accrual,” RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy said. “USDA is using all of the tools in the toolbox to help producers amid the drought, including these crop insurance flexibilities.”

These new crop insurance flexibilities are part of USDA’s broader response to help producers impacted by drought. On July 13, 2021, the RMA authorized emergency procedures to help streamline and accelerate the adjustment of losses and issuance of indemnity payments to crop insurance policyholders in impacted areas. Additionally, RMA updated policy on July 6, 2021, to allow producers with crop insurance to hay, graze or chop cover crops at any time and still receive 100 percent of the prevented planting payment. This policy change supports use of cover crops, which can help producers build resilience to drought.

Additional Drought Assistance

For those in need of added aid, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial assistance to improve irrigation efficiency and water storage in soil, helping producers build resilience to drought. In response to drought this year, the NRCS targeted $41.8 million in Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon through Conservation Incentive Contracts, a new option available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, focused on drought practices.

The FSA and NRCS also offer a broad suite of programs available to producers to help recover losses from drought. Disaster assistance programs and loans are available to help producers offset losses and get financing to help with recovery. Producers should visit farmers.gov, where they can use the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool or Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet to learn more about program or loan options.

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