Disaster aid eligibility expanded to foresters

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, April 24, 2024

By Nathan Gregory
MSU Extension Service
Forest landowners in Mississippi can now join the state’s farm owners who suffered production
loss due to last year’s drought in applying for federal emergency loans.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack approved a legislative request to approve Emergency
Forest Restoration Program funding, or EFRP, for eligible forest landowners on April 15. He
initially designated all 82 Mississippi counties as natural disaster areas on March 25 related to
the drought. Farm operators seeking emergency aid through the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Farm Service Agency, or FSA, now have just over seven months to apply.
Nearly 80,000 acres of the state’s pine trees were damaged in 2023 by the drought and ensuing
pine bark beetle infestations, according to a preliminary report from the Mississippi Forestry
Commission and the USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station. Affected timber
managers can apply for financial relief through EFRP until Aug. 15.
Forest landowners whose EFRP applications are accepted can be reimbursed for up to 75% of
the estimated monetary loss after they have successfully documented the scope of the
restoration work. The minimum eligible restoration cost for participation is $1,000, with no
minimum acreage requirement. The program’s payment limitation is $500,000.

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