USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that disaster assistance will be issued to livestock, honey bee and farm-raised fish producers that suffered losses in 2008 because of disease, adverse weather, or other conditions.

The aid will come from the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP).

"American farmers, ranchers and producers should have protection from market disruptions and disasters," Vilsack said. "The assistance announced today will be particularly helpful to beekeepers whose bees suffered from Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and will also assist other producers facing economic challenges."

More than $10 million in disaster assistance, including more than $6 million to compensate beekeepers for 2008 losses, will be issued starting June 30.

Under the program, producers are compensated for losses not covered under other Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance Payment programs established by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, specifically Livestock Forage Disaster Program, Livestock Indemnity Program, and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program.

ELAP benefits related to 2009 losses are expected to be issued later this summer.

ELAP eligibility provisions have been amended for honey bee and farm-raised fish producers. The modifications include allowing honey bee and farm-raised fish producers who did not replace honeybees or fish that were lost due to a natural disaster to be eligible for ELAP payments based on the fair market value of the lost honey bees or fish.

For more information, visit your FSA county office or www.fsa.usda.gov.