Yesterday we heard from USDA Farm Service Agency’s Mike Husky on the under-utilization of the government’s emergency loan program. Many disaster events also kick in the Emergency Conservation Program, or ECP, which is a completely different monetary program from the emergency loan program. Susan Woodall, agricultural program specialist with the NC state FSA office:
“With ECP, it’s county specific, a county has to request to be approved for ECP assistance, so they do not come into he presidential declaration where the contiguous counties would be pulled in.”
ECP is a cost share program, up to 75%according to Woodall. So, in other words if you spend $100 to clean up or rehab a building after a disaster, and your county is included in the declaration, and you sign up, you could receive as much as $75 back, free and clear from the government. The distribution is determined by the total number of applicants, and the total amount of funds applied for by each county from Washington. Woodall says that the application rate for ECP funding following Hurricane Irene has been big:
“From the counties I’d heard from we’ve had several hundred in each county request come in. I know that I talked to one county and they had 600 requests come in. So, I don’t know that we go the amount of funding that would provide total assistance, but we have enough money that all would probably get some of that.”
While participation in the government loan program requires mountains of paperwork supplied by the applicant the ECP program operates differently according to Woodall:
“I would personally think it would be a lot easier. We’re not looking at their balance sheet, we’re not looking at any of that. The county committee is looking at the request, the county personally has to go out and do on-site visits and see that it is of significant magnitude that they would need federal assistance.”
Woodall explains that the more than $3.2 million request by North Carolina counties has recently come through, so those producers that have already applied for ECP funds should get their receipts together to submit for their share of the funding.