USDA Provides Support for Hurricane-Impacted Dairies in Puerto Rico

 In the wake of the 2017 hurricanes, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing emergency assistance to dairy operators in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. USDA is preparing for signup to begin October 21, 2017.

“We’re dispatching additional USDA staff to the island, but we also continue to ramp up material assistance as well,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Dairy producers need help immediately, and the Trump Administration is providing it.”

Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico’s agriculture sector, including dairy operations.  Secretary Perdue said the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is providing up to $12 million dollars to enable operators of Puerto Rico’s 253 licensed dairy operations to purchase feed for cattle. The special initiative, applicable only to Puerto Rico, is called the Dairy Assistance Program for Puerto Rico (DAP-PR). The program will be administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), which has offices and staff on the island.

“Dairy operations face additional losses unless they have feed for their remaining cattle,” said Perdue. “This funding will enable them to get the help they need until the situation in Puerto Rico stabilizes.”

Under the provisions of today’s announcement, dairy operators can apply to FSA to receive vouchers to purchase an estimated one-month supply of feed.  The amount of the voucher is calculated based on 100 percent of estimated feed costs per cow for 30 days. There are an estimated 94,000 dairy cows on the island.

The CCC Charter Act includes authority for the corporation to make available materials and facilities required in connection with the production and marketing of agricultural commodities (except tobacco). The DAP-PR is a one-time initiative, designed to quickly provide disaster relief to assist in the production and marketing of dairy in Puerto Rico.

FSA will issue vouchers to licensed dairy applicants who may exchange the vouchers for feed at local dealers. If funding remains available at the end of the application period, FSA may provide assistance for additional feed or fuel purchases to further support these dairy operations. All applications must be received no later than Dec. 1, 2017.

For more information about how to apply, call the USDA Puerto Rico disaster assistance hotline for agricultural producers at 1.787.303.0341, visit your local FSA office, or go to www.fsa.usda.gov.

Source: Isabel Benemelis, USDA

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