Dry Ranches

Bulls at the Babbitt Ranches Spider Web Camp stand in an empty stock tank that would normally be filled knee-deep with water this time of year. The recent drought conditions have forced local ranchers to start hauling water to their animals because the earthen water tanks that are usually fed by rainfall and snowmelt are at low levels or completely dry.

WASHINGTON -- An online tool is now available to help ranchers document and estimate payments to cover feed transportation costs caused by drought, which are now covered by the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture updated the program this year to include feed transportation costs as well as lowered the threshold for when assistance for water hauling expenses is available. USDA’s Farm Service Agency will begin taking applications this fall.  

“Drought has had a tremendous impact on producers, and we are thinking outside the box to help producers mitigate the effects of drought, which is a necessary first step to realizing the Secretary’s vision of ensuring agricultural producers get a fair share of the food dollar,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “From climate change to COVID-19, we are continuously working to make our programs as flexible as possible and so they effectively help producers face today’s challenges.”

The new ELAP Feed Transportation Producer Tool is a Microsoft Excel workbook that enables ranchers to input information specific to their operation to determine an estimated payment. Final payments may vary depending on eligibility.  

To use the tool, ranchers will need: 

  • Number of truckloads for this year. 
  • Mileage per truckload this year. 
  • Share of feed cost this year (if splitting loads). 
  • Number of truckloads you normally haul. 
  • Normal mileage per truckload.  
  • Share of normal feed cost 

 The tool requires Microsoft Excel, and a tutorial video is available at fsa.usda.gov/elap. 

ELAP 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 as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture. ELAP now covers feed transportation costs where grazing and hay resources have been depleted.