The 2008 Farm Bill (June 18, 2008) created a new Emergency Assistance program for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-Rased Fish (ELAP). According the the limited documentation on www.fsa.usda.gov you would need to buy in by September 16, 2008. Most of us would not be requried to pay any "buy-in" fees as we would fall in the "Limited Resource Producer" classification (Less than $100,000 in gross farm sales), though it’s unclear what needs to be done if you fall in such classification…
However….. there is no additional information at all on what the program covers, what documentation is required nor what the benifits may be.
So I wrote the USDA…. their official response after 3 months….
Until the regulations are published in the Federal Register for ELAP, all types of losses for which honey bee producers may be compensated for under ELAP will not be known. However, some of the possible losses that may be compensated for under ELAP are:
1. purchased or harvested feed that was intended as feed for honey bees that was destroyed or lost because of an eligible adverse weather event;
2. physical losses of honey bees/honey bee hives because of colony collapse disorder or eligible adverse weather events.
Remember, these are just examples of losses that may or may not be compensated under ELAP. A forthcoming regulation in the Federal Register will provide final determinaitons.
So, in short.. nearly a year after the program was created, and long after any losses and required paperwork should have been submitted…. The USDA still does not know what the program covers, what is required to obtain coverage or make a claim, nor when they might actually have this information. I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise coming from a government agency.
The sad thing is, any producer who really needed the money to stay in business due to losses over the 2008-2009 winter will be out of business by the time they receive any money that could have helped them rebuild their apiaries this spring.