USDA expands emergency assistance program

Those who raise bees may be entitled to emergency funds from the government.
Those who raise bees may be entitled to emergency funds from the government.
Many who use farm equipment to make their living may experience losses due to disasters, though programs exist to help them recover from setbacks.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced recently it is extending a deadline for applications for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program. Because requirements for the program changed, the department will take applications for the 2008 and 2009 seasons through May 5 of this year.

"ELAP, authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have losses due to disease, adverse weather or other conditions, including losses due to blizzards and wildfires," the USDA said.

Producers are eligible for ELAP provided their losses are not covered by other USDA programs, including the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program.

The ELAP extension may be of particular interest to honeybee owners who have faced diminished stock because of Colony Collapse Disorder. According to the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, the cause of CCD is not known and the phenomenon was first observed in October of 2006, when some hiveowners reported colony losses between 30 and 90 percent.