2 min read
Figure 1. Catfish harvest in western Alabama. (Photo credit: Alabama Farmers Federation)

The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) is a federal disaster assistance program provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). The program provides financial assistance to producers of farm-raised fish meant for consumption and other aquatic animals for eligible losses of fish/shellfish and feed. Producers do not pay a fee to participate in the program. Information on the program, eligibility, and how to apply are discussed below.

Program Basics

Prior to 2021, only farm-raised game and bait fish were eligible for ELAP. Following policy changes in 2021, farmed fish meant for consumption and other aquatic animals raised in controlled environments became eligible. The program aims to help aquaculture producers mitigate weather-related risk by providing financial assistance for eligible loss of fish and feed. The adverse weather conditions eligible under ELAP include, but are not limited to, excessive heat and wind, floods, freezes, hurricanes, tidal surges, tornadoes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

Payments for eligible events are based on a payment factor of 75 percent multiplied by the number of fish lost—in excess of normal mortality—multiplied by the state’s predetermined market value. Feed that is lost or damaged because of adverse weather conditions is also covered, and payments are a minimum of 60 percent of the actual cost of purchased feed.

Socially disadvantaged people—including minorities and women—as well as those with limited-resources and beginner and veteran farmers can quality for 90 percent of the calculated payment. Unlike some other FSA assistance programs, ELAP has no payment limitation, and benefits can be received from both ELAP and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).

How to Apply

Aquaculture producers can apply to receive ELAP assistance at their FSA county office. The ELAP program runs by calendar year. Producers must file acreage reports at their county office by September 30 each year to participate in the program for the following calendar year. Following an eligible loss event, the producer will need to submit a Notice of Loss and Application for Payment to their local FSA office.

For the 2023 program year—and all years moving forward—the final day to file the Notice of Loss and Application for Payment is on the January 30 that follows the program year. For example, the application deadline for losses occurring during the 2024 program year is January 30, 2025.

Important Deadlines for ELAP

1Program year corresponds to the calendar year
Date of Loss1Final Date to Submit Acreage ReportFinal Date to Submit Notice of Loss and Applications for Payment
Program Year 2024September 30, 2023January 30, 2025
Program Year 2023September 30, 2022January 30, 2024
Program Year 2025September 30, 2024January 30, 2026


Producers will also need to provide documentation—such as sales invoices or feed, seed, or fingerling receipts—with their application. This is done in order to demonstrate the eligible loss event and to document beginning and ending inventories. The application and supporting documentation will be reviewed by the FSA county committee to determine eligibility and, if approved, the producer will receive a payment. While providing data to FSA is voluntary, financial assistance may not be provided without all required data.

More Information

To find more information about ELAP, visit fsa.usda.gov/ELAP, check out the ELAP fact sheet, or contact your local FSA office. To find your county’s FSA office, visit the USDA’s Service Center Locator.