Storm Damage Relief Program Update for Pastures

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Three new programs will be available specifically to help farmers that had damage to pastures from the effects of flooding and excessive rainfall across North Carolina. One of these programs, the “NC Farm Bureau Hurricane Relief Fund – Pasture Renovation & Cover Crop Seed Initiative” will be managed by the NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation. The program will directly disperse seed to livestock and crop farmers that had fields damaged. The other two programs, “Disaster Winter Forage Crop Incentive Program” and “Disaster Pasture Renovation Program” will be administered by the Soil and Water Conservation Districts as part of the overall North Carolina Agricultural Cost Share Program.

The Pasture Renovation and Cover Crop Seed Initiative Program will put some of the funds donated to the NC Farm Bureau Hurricane Relief Fund to direct use helping farmers in the next few weeks. Producers will fill out an application on-line or can drop off an application at their county extension office. The application form will be available on the Foundation website by the end of the day on November 9, 2018. Producers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, and a decision on awarding seed will be made each week until the funds are expended. Seed will be available as early as next week, so if you have damaged pastures or cropland that needs a cover crop planted to reduce erosion or to grow winter feed for livestock. Details on the program and the application can be found at the NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation website.

The Disaster Winter Forage Crop Incentive Program aims to make direct payments to farmers to offset some of their expenses in establishing winter annual forage crops. The payment will be $20/acre on documented acres that meet the standards set for the program. Funds have been earmarked for the program in most impacted counties, but funds will be dispersed based on contracts approved by the local Soil and Water Conservation District Board and will be contingent to the availability of the limited funds set aside for the program. Planting of winter annuals must be compete by Nov 30 (for Rye, Ryegrass, Wheat and Triticale), and funding will be retroactive to September 14, 2018. Additional details are  available from NCDA&CS.

The Disaster Pasture Renovation Program is designed to help producers reestablish perennial pastures that were killed or damaged during the storms. Short-term forage production can be stimulated on these pastures by the use of winter annuals, but eventually, most farmers will want to renovate with perennials. The program will pay up to $225/acre (based on actual costs) and the application will be to the local Soil and Water Conservation District offices. Contracts will be approved by the Soil and Water Conservation District Board. Additional Details are available from N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Many producers have applied for Farm Services Administration programs designed to help pay for the loss of animals (Livestock Indemnity Program); the loss of pasture, hay and feed (Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish); and damage causing conservation concerns (Emergency Conservation Program). Producers have 30 days after losses are apparent to notify FSA about losses, and 90 days to submit an application. Most farmers will still be considered eligible for the programs as long as they contact FSA by the end of November.

Finally, producers planning on planting winter annuals need to make haste to make their plans and get seed in the ground. November 30 is the latest date we would recommend planting winter annuals, so that leaves only about 3 weeks from the time this publication. If you have land that still needs to be planted make sure you apply for the Pasture Renovation and Cover Crop Seed program, and order the additional seed you need. It is best to use a drill to plant, but broadcasting is a possibility with the wet conditions we are now seeing across most of the state. We encourage producers to take advantage of these opportunities as they recover from these devastating events.