USDA to include fish raised for food in aquaculture disaster assistance expansion

USDA to include fish raised for food in aquaculture disaster assistance expansion

(WAVY) — The USDA announced a new policy change aiming to make food fish and other aquatic species eligible for the ELAP.

The latest move is in response to the aquaculture losses cause by major winter storms along the U.S. Gulf Coast back in February.

Under the new policy, eligible species would be covered under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) benefits. The program currently provides financial assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or loss conditions, including blizzards and wildfires.

Previously, only farm-raised game and bait fish were eligible for death loss ELAP benefits. Beginning June 1, eligible aquaculture producers can request ELAP assistance for 2021 losses. This policy change is for the 2021 and subsequent program years.

To be eligible, losses must have occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2021. For farm-raised fish and other aquatic species death losses only that occurred prior to June 1, 2021, the FSA is waiving the requirement to file a notice of loss within 30 calendar days of when the loss is apparent.

Officials will still require aquaculture produces to provide “contemporaneous records” upon their request to document the eligible loss event and demonstrate the beginning and ending inventory. 

The deadline to file an application for payment for the 2021 program year is Jan. 31, 2022.

Producers must provide acreage reports for the surface acres of water where their aquatic species are raised. Acreage reports for 2021 must be filed by Sept. 30, 2022.

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