FSA offers additional help for eligible parishes

The USDA Farm Service agency (FSA) announced the deadline to accept applications for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) to parishes affected by Hurricane Laura has been extended. The new deadline is Feb. 8, 2021.

“Dealing with natural disasters is never easy, but it’s important for producers to call our office as soon as possible to make us aware of their damages and to receive information concerning assistance,” Craig McCain, state executive director for FSA in Louisiana, said in a press release. "I encourage eligible landowners who haven’t participated in USDA programs to contact their local service center office as soon as possible because customer records will have to be created for these individuals. In addition, due to COVID-19, FSA Offices are not currently open to ‘walk in” customers, therefore, it is necessary to call the office and make an appointment.”

Parishes eligible for the the EFRP include Allen, Beauregard, Bienville, Caddo, Calcasieu, Caldwell, Claiborne, Evangeline, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Sabine, Union, Vernon, Webster and Winn.

According to the FSA press release, "EFRP provides payments to eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) land to enable them to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster. After applications are received, local FSA County Committees determine land eligibility using information provided and if applicable, an on-site damage inspection to assess the type and extent of damage.

"Eligible forest restoration practices include debris removal, such as down or damaged trees, in order to establish a new stand or provide natural regeneration; site preparation, planting materials and labor to replant forest land; restoration of forestland roads, fire lanes, fuel breaks or erosion control structures; fencing, tree shelters and tree tubes to protect trees from wildlife damage; and wildlife enhancement to provide cover openings and wildlife habitat.

"In order to meet eligibility requirements, NIPF land must have existing tree cover or had tree cover immediately before the natural disaster occurred and be sustainable for growing trees. The land must also be owned by any nonindustrial private individual, group, association, corporation or other private legal entity that has definitive decision-making authority over the land. The natural disaster must have resulted in damage that if untreated would impair or endanger the natural resources on the land and/or materially affect future use of the land.

Landowners should contact your local FSA office for approved EFRP practices.

The following parishes are eligible for the ECP: Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, Cameron, Catahoula, DeSoto, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Iberia, Jackson, Jeff Davis, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Sabine, St. Landry, Union, Vernon, and Winn.