Senator Marshall Secures ERP Top-Off Payments for American Farmers
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent announcement that it would be issuing final Emergency Relief Program (ERP) payments totaling approximately $306 million to eligible producers who incurred losses due to natural disasters in 2020 and 2021.
The announcement comes as a direct result of Senator Marshall’s ongoing work with USDA officials to address his and his colleagues’ concerns about the misguided changes to the ERP program after the successful and widely praised rollout of ERP Phase One.
“At a time when the USDA should have been focusing on meeting the needs of the farmers and ranchers impacted by natural disasters, it instead made fundamental and problematic changes to an otherwise effective program. These changes in no way reflected Congressional intent of the program and have created major delays in getting farmers the assistance they needed,” Senator Marshall said. “The recent changes to the ERP program unfairly discriminate against full-time farm families who suffer the deepest losses. While we are too far down the road to undo the USDA’s misguided alterations to this program, we were able to get financial help for our farmers through additional payments under the successful ERP Phase One with unused funds allocated to 2020 and 2021 natural disasters.”
Starting this week, the USDA will issue funds to producers who received ERP Phase One monies from the Farm Service Agency. These payments will be calculated based on crop insurance indemnities. Initial installments were set at a 75 percent payment factor. Producers will now receive an additional 3.5% ERP Phase One funding to bring the overall payment factor to 78.5 percent.
Because ERP Phase One disbursements to producers of non-insured crops covered by FSA NAP policies were originally paid at 100%, no additional funds will be issued to these producers for 2020 and 2021 losses.
In 2021, Congress appropriated $10 billion in assistance to agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms, and other eligible disasters experienced during 2020 and 2021. In 2022, FSA implemented ERP Phase One, which used a streamlined process with pre-filled application forms, leveraging crop insurance indemnities or Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) payments on file with USDA.
In 2023, the FSA announced it was changing its formula for calculating assistance and, in a stark reversal of the Phase One framework, asked producers to complete extremely complicated new forms that required the sharing of personal tax records, information that does not necessarily correlate to crop losses by crop year.
In March of 2023, Senator Marshall and Representative Arrington led a letter to the USDA criticizing the department for its ERP Phase II rollout and urging it to build on the successes of ERP Phase I. The letter also encouraged the department to use Phase I as the framework for 2022 crop losses.
Later, in 2023, FSA announced that it was again changing the framework for ERP by announcing a “progressive payment factor” that would target disaster payments to the smallest producers or those with the shallowest losses.
In December 2023, Senator Marshall and Representative Arrington penned another letter to the USDA asking the USDA to abandon this new approach and implement the 2021 ERP Phase One framework.