Bird flu-hit dairy farmers can apply for milk loss assistance

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

Getty/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc
Getty/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc
The US Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications to reimburse dairy farmers who incurred milk losses due to the avian influenza outbreak in cattle.

To be eligible, producers must provide proof of a positive test in their herd on an individual animal or bulk-tank samples; provide the date when loss became apparent, which is the sample collection date for the HPAI test; and fill in an application that certifies the number of affected dairy cows and when they were removed from production, as well as the producer’s share in the milk production.

Producers must also submit the following forms, if not already on file with FSA: AD-1026, Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) Certification; AD-2047, Customer Data Worksheet; CCC-901, Member Information for Legal Entities (if applicable); CCC-902, Farm Operating Plan for Payment Eligibility; and CCC-941, Average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Certification and Consent to Disclosure of Tax Information.

How much assistance a farmer would receive will be based on a 21-day period, which related to the length of time cows are deemed unable to produce milk due to the effects of the virus, followed by further 7 days when it is assumed that a cow typically returns to milking but produces just half of its usual output.

FSA will calculate payments for milk loss due to H5N1 by multiplying a per head payment rate by the number of eligible adult dairy cows, multiplied by the producer’s share of such dairy cows’ milk production, multiplied by an ELAP payment rate of 90%. The per-head payment rate is calculated based on national milk production per head, per month, and a typical number of days that an infected dairy cow is expected to have reduced or no production, as highlighted above.

The financial help will be provided through ELAP, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish Program, starting from July 1.

To apply, producers should contact the FSA at their local USDA Service Center.

The 60-day caveat

There is a caveat within the detailed producer eligibility document, which could exclude some farmers from claiming assistance. According to the eligibility criteria, a producer must have owned, cash-leased or been a contract grower of eligible dairy cows for no less than 60 days before the positive test collection date, suggesting that producers that had owned or leased infected animals for less than 60 days would not qualify for assistance.

More details can be found in this document​.

So far, avian influenza has been confirmed in 12 US states and 137 dairy herds, the majority of which are based in Texas, Colorado, Idaho and Michigan.

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