WASHINGTON, DC, US — The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $20 million in cost-share assistance to help producers in Kentucky, Minnesota, South Dakota and surrounding areas rebuild agricultural and grain storage facilities that were damaged by natural disasters in 2021 and 2022, particularly in locations struggling to provide storage space as the fall harvest gets underway.

The assistance from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will be designed to help producers affected by the December 2021 tornadoes that passed through 11 counties in Kentucky, as well as producers in Minnesota and South Dakota affected by the derechos (severe thunderstorms and straight-line winds) that swept through these states in May 2022 and July 2022.   

“Over the past two years, weather events in several states caused catastrophic losses to grain storage facilities on family farms as well as a large, commercial grain elevator, leaving stored grain exposed to the elements and affecting commodity marketing options for many producers,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said. 

Hearing from congressional leaders who identified a gap in the USDA’s available disaster aid, Vilsack said the Department designed a new program to deliver direct assistance to producers struggling to meet their on-farm storage capacity needs in the wake of these natural disasters.

“Congress has provided USDA with important flexibility through the Commodity Credit Corp., which gives us the tools to be nimble as we work to support the production and marketing of agricultural commodities and quickly respond to agricultural producers’ needs,” Vilsack said.

The USDA anticipates that the funds announced Sept. 26 will cover 75% of the eligible expenses associated with building grain storage capacity or purchasing equipment such as grain baggers for a producer’s own use or for a shared-cost arrangement among a group of producers who want to use a common facility. 

The program primarily will be focused on supporting producers or groups of producers in their efforts to build new storage capacity in eligible areas where there is a shortage of local grain storage. Details on the program and the process to seek cost share will be available in a future Federal Register notice, but the USDA also has an existing Farm Storage Facility Loan Program that can immediately provide low-interest financing. Producers should contact their local service center for details or to ensure they are on a list for updates.

To determine locations where producers may be eligible for emergency grain storage facility assistance, state impact area maps for Kentucky, Minnesota, South Dakota and surrounding areas are now available online. These maps depict damaged storage facility locations and counties within a 30-mile radius of these facilities where producers may be eligible for this new program. If a producer believes their county should also qualify for this program, there will be a procedure to consider and add additional counties.

The USDA said it will keep producers and stakeholders informed as program eligibility, application and implementation details are made available in the coming weeks. Additional USDA disaster assistance information can be found online at farmers.gov.