By Jay Stone, Georgia Farm Bureau
Georgia Farm Service Agency (FSA) Director Arthur Tripp is on a mission to make sure Georgia farmers are aware of all the programs and services the USDA FSA offers. In August, Tripp outlined the agency’s array of programs to hundreds of farmers attending the Georgia Farm Bureau Commodity Conference and again at the Ag Issues Summit in Perry.
“I hear all the time that you all are experiencing rising costs of inputs,” Tripp said. “We know that’s a significant burden on all our producers. I just want to make sure that you all are aware of some of these financial options that we offer through FSA.”
Tripp said the FSA’s primary functions are providing disaster assistance and offering access to capital for farmers.
The agency provides a variety of loans, including farm ownership loans, storage facility loans, operating loans, emergency loans, conservation loans, land contract guarantees, microloans and youth loans. Tripp said FSA backs between $100 million and $200 million in loans each year, partnering with private and community banks for many of its loans. If those are not available through banks, the agency also lends money directly to farmers. The FSA guarantees 90% of the funds loaned through its programs.
Tripp emphasized that loans are by no means the only assistance FSA offers. In 2021, FSA allocated $1.3 billion in direct payments to Georgia producers.
FSA administers the USDA’s disaster assistance programs, including the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP), and the Emergency Relief Program (ERP), the ongoing version of the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program-Pluss (WHIP+).
Under CFAP and other COVID-related programs, FSA provided $476 million to Georgia producers, Tripp said.
LIP provides monetary payment if a producer’s cattle are affected by weather conditions or predatory animal attacks. The LIP payout rates were increased this summer for beef cattle from $175.27 to $474.58 and for dairy cows from $45 to $255.
Under ELAP, FSA provides payouts to producers who are experiencing challenges from blizzards, excessive wind, winter storms, lightning, floods or earthquakes. He encouraged producers to keep a documented inventory of farm buildings, vehicles, equipment and livestock with photos stored on a cloud server or at an off-farm site.
“If you have any losses related to this, we need to know, because it’s an opportunity for us to help you,” Tripp said.
Tripp asked farmers to improve data available through the U.S. Drought Monitor by self-reporting conditions on their farms to provide data for areas the Drought Monitor doesn’t have data. To self-report, visit https://gfb.ag/FSAdroughtselfreport.
Tripp also discussed FSA’s efforts to advance agriculture through Farm-to-School grants to help schools establish or expand existing ag programs. FSA also offers up to $5,000 to help students purchase animals to enter in livestock shows.
For details on all FSA programs, visit https://gfb.ag/fsaprograms.