After the driest three years on record, California dairy producers are reeling from storms that have displaced families and cattle, damaged farms and feed supplies, and severely impacted crops being grown to feed the state’s 1.7 million dairy cows. California dairy farmers are now bracing for more flooding as temperatures rise and this year’s historic Sierra snowpack thaws.
Federal, state and local officials are working to repair damaged canals, levees and roads while preparing flood barriers and limiting reservoir water levels to leave room for melting snow. However, overflowing water continues to impact the nation’s top-producing dairy region, and farmers’ full losses have yet to be realized.
NMPF is working with affected members, federal agencies and Congress to mobilize meaningful, timely support for California dairy farmers and secure funding and support for critical water infrastructure and storage in the future.
Preparation and Response
The resources below outline how dairies can best prepare for and respond to a flooding emergency. For immediate help, producers should contact local emergency management officials or dial 2-1-1. California dairy farmers are urged to keep in close contact with their county agriculture commissioners when dealing with losses and problems on the farm as they are the best local resource for agriculture-related information and are tasked with collecting data for USDA disaster assistance.
- California Dairies: Coping with Flooding and Evacuation, California Dairy Quality Assurance Program
- Action-Items for Emergency Flood Evacuation for a Dairy, California Dairy Quality Assurance Program
- Flooding and Livestock Owners: Preparing, Responding and Recovering, UC Davis
- Developing a Storm Preparedness and Response Plan for Dairies, University of Georgia Extension
- Forage and Livestock Management after a Flood, West Virginia Extension
- Managing Flood-Damaged Crops, Penn State Extension
- Disaster Resource Center, USDA
USDA is offering technical and financial assistance to help California dairy farmers recover. Affected producers should contact their local USDA Service Center to report losses and learn more about program options available to assist in their recovery from crop, land, infrastructure and livestock losses and damages. Applicable programs include:
Emergency Conservation Program
The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) helps farmers repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters and put in place methods for water conservation during severe drought. The ECP does this through funding and technical assistance. (Application deadline: Oct. 13)
Emergency Farm Loans
Farm Service Agency emergency loans help producers who suffer qualifying farm related losses directly caused by the disaster in a county declared or designated as a primary disaster or quarantine area. Also, farmers located in counties contiguous to the declared or designated area may qualify for loans. (Application deadline: Within eight months of disaster declaration)
Livestock Indemnity Program
The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) provides benefits to livestock producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather or by attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the Federal Government. LIP payments are equal to 75 percent of the average fair market value of the livestock. (Application deadline: File of Loss must be filed within 30 days of event or when loss becomes apparent)
Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program
The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides financial assistance to eligible producers of livestock for losses due to certain adverse weather events or loss conditions. Assistance can cover loss of grazing land and stored feed losses. (Application deadline: File of Loss must be filed within 30 days of event or when loss becomes apparent)
Environmental Quality Incentives Program
While not designed to be an emergency response program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) can play a vital role in assisting producers recovering from natural disasters. Through EQIP, USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service provides financial assistance to repair and prevent excessive soil erosion caused or impacted by natural disasters.
Click here to navigate USDA’s Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool. The discovery tool walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of what USDA disaster assistance programs may meet their needs.
Additional federal relief is available in counties that have been declared major disaster areas. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Visit FEMA.org for more information.