USVI FSA, NRCS, RD Updates for August 2021-Gear Up for the 2021 Hurricane Season: Prepare and Recover with USDA

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US Department of Agriculture

USVI FSA Updates -  July 14, 2020

Farm Service Agency

Gear Up for the 2021 Hurricane Season: Prepare and Recover with USDA

Hurricane season is underway, and it lasts until November 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that the 2021 hurricane season will be above normal in the Atlantic and produce 13 to 20 named storms with six to 10 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes.  The eastern Pacific hurricane season will produce 12 to 18 named storms, with five to 10 hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes.

USDA is here to help you prepare for and recover from hurricane events.

Take precautions to prepare and protect your family and operation.

  • Develop an Emergency Plan - Ensure your household and employees know your hurricane plan, including meeting points, emergency contact lists, and alternate evacuation routes in case infrastructure is damaged.
  • Remove Debris and Secure Large Objects - Clean out culverts, ditches, and other drainage areas, especially before and during peak hurricane season to reduce water damage. Most injuries to animals, people, or structures during a hurricane are caused by flying objects. To lessen the risk, minimize the presence of equipment, supplies, and debris that may become airborne during high winds or encountered in floodwaters.
  • Secure Important Records and Documents - Pre- and post-hurricane documentation is extremely important for insurance compensation and recovery assistance. You’ll want to have thorough records of damages and losses sustained on your farm as well as documentation of your cleanup and recovery efforts.

It is critical to document inventory of farm buildings, vehicles, equipment, and livestock before a disaster occurs. Take photos, videos, or make written lists with descriptions. Keep copies of this inventory in multiple places: computer, off-site in a safe location, and on a cloud-based server where information is transmitted and saved weekly.

  • Know Your Insurance Options - Regularly review your insurance policies with your agent to be sure you have adequate coverage, including flood insurance, for your facilities, vehicles, farm buildings, crops and livestock. Note, there are limitations on how soon insurance coverage will take effect. Generally, insurance policies will not cover damage if the policy was not in place before a disaster.

For counties within or adjacent to the area of sustained hurricane-force winds, the Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) Hurricane Insurance Protection – Wind Index (HIP-WI) covers a portion of your underlying crop insurance policy’s deductible. HIP-WI covers 70 crops and is available in counties near the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic, and Hawaii.

  • Gather Supplies - Have drinking water, canned food, a generator, batteries, a flashlight, and fuel available in case you lose power. For widespread outages, credit and debit cards may not work, so have cash handy.
  • Access Real-time Emergency Information - Download the FEMA app for free on the App Store and Google Play for safety tips on what to do before, during, and after disasters.

Learn more about how USDA can help you recover.

Know your Final Planting Dates

Know your Final Planting Dates

All producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for more information on the final planting date for specific crops. The final planting dates vary by crop, planting period and county so please contact your local FSA office for a list of county-specific planting deadlines. The timely planting of a crop, by the final planting date, may prevent loss of program benefits.

Loans for Targeted Underserved Producers

Farm Loans

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has several loan programs to help you start or continue an agriculture production. Farm ownership and operating loans are available.   

While all qualified producers are eligible to apply for these loan programs, FSA has provided priority funding for members of targeted underserved applicants. 

A targeted underserved applicant is one of a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic or gender prejudice because of his or her identity as members of the group without regard to his or her individual qualities. 

For purposes of this program, targeted underserved groups are women, African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

FSA loans are only available to applicants who meet all the eligibility requirements and are unable to obtain the needed credit elsewhere.

Natural Resources Conservation Service

USDA Offers Assistance to Virgin Islands Farmers Impacted by Drought


USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a Drought designation for the USVI in June. For the 2021 program year, St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas have met drought ratings that trigger eligibility for livestock disaster assistance. For losses due to drought, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) determines qualifying drought ratings using the U.S. Drought Monitor. Farmers are eligible for FSA Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) payments for 2021 grazing losses due to drought. The deadline to apply for 2021 LFP assistance is Jan. 31, 2022.

Farmers are also eligible for NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) technical and financial assistance to improve climate resiliency. Eligible practices include brush management, firebreaks, livestock watering facilities, irrigation efficiency improvement and water management, prescribed grazing, silvopasture, and soil health improvement practices. Call our St. Croix USDA Service Center at 340-773-9146 for assistance under FSA's Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and NRCS' Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Learn more at:

Acid Sulfate Soil Sampling for the USVI

NRCS article 2

The NRCS Caribbean Soils Team and UPR Soil Scientists traveled to the USVI July 19-23 to sample soils for validation of the Coastal Lowland Acid Sulfate Soils project. They successfully sampled 11 sites: six on St. Croix, two on St. Thomas, and three on St. John. At right, from left to right: Dr. Gustavo Martinez (UPR Soils Dept.), MLRA Soil Survey Leader Samuel Rios, Dr. Perez Alegria (UPR Soils Dept.) and State Soil Scientist Manuel Matos take a break in the shade after sampling soils at Lindquist Beach, St. Thomas, on Wednesday, July 21 (photo by Albion Chico George). Learn more about the project...

Are you Creating your Own Drought?


How you manage your farm can have a big effect on how your land responds to rain, or drought. Maximizing soil cover keeps the soil cooler to reduce stress to plants and soil organisms, reduces evaporation rates, and increases the amount of water entering the soil profile from rainfall and irrigation. Help your soil help you by implementing the four pillars of Soil health. Your soil will thank you, your crops and animals will thank you, and your wallet will thank you. Learn more…

NRCS Provides Dam Inspection On-The-Job Training in Añasco


In July, NRCS Engineer Rolando Collazo joined Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) contractors to inspect the Daguey and Ajies Dams in Añasco, PR. The field inspections were part of NRCS’ Emergency Watershed Protection Prram (EWPP) assessment and design process to repair the dams to pre-Hurricane Maria conditions.

As part of the field visits, Eng. Collazo provided on-the-job training (OJT) to 5 new Pathways student interns (below). They were taught about the proper usage of basic measurement tools measuring distances and slopes of Dam earth embankment. Read more…

Pathways Survey Training in Aibonito


Part of our NRCS mission is to train the next generation of conservationists. To that end, Pathways students interning across the country met on July 12th at Finca Tres Vidas in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, to participate in a Survey Training led by NRCS Caribbean Engineers Gabriel Román, Celys Irizarry and José Serrano. The training was held to familiarize the Pathways students with the engineering equipment most frequently used when planning conservation practices. The Pathways students learned how to use a Laser Level, a Total Station and a Virtual Reference Station (VRS). They also learned how to take bathymetry data measurements of the pond on the farm.

NRCS is committed to providing quality training and enriching experiences to our Pathways student interns to help these young professionals sharpen their skill sets. Learn more…

Rural Development

USDA Seeks Applications for Funds to Build Housing for Farm Workers

USDA Rural Development (RD) is seeking applications for funding to increase the supply of affordable housing for farm workers. Subject to the availability of funds, the loan and grants will be provided through USDA’s Farm Labor Housing Program. Eligible recipients include broad-based nonprofit organizations, nonprofit organizations for farm workers, community organizations, or an Agency or political subdivision of state or local government. The funds may only be used for the construction of new, off-farm, worker housing.

Applications must be submitted electronically to USDA’s Rural Housing Service before the deadline for each round of funding. Pre-applications for the second round of funding will be accepted after Sept. 1, 2021. The deadline to submit pre-applications is 12:00 pm, Nov. 1, 2021. Final applications must be submitted by 12:00 pm, May 2, 2022.

USDA will host workshops on August 25, 2021 to discuss the application process and the borrower’s responsibilities under the program, among other topics. Starting August 18, 2021, interested parties may email to request information on how to attend, using “Off-FLH Workshop” as the subject line. The email must contain:

  • The borrower’s name,
  • The project’s name,
  • The borrower’s contact information.
  • The state/ territory where the project will be located.

USDA-RD Announces up to $500 Million to Expand Vaccine Access and Health Services

USDA Rural Development (RD) announces it will provide up to $500 million in grants to help rural health care facilities, tribes, and communities expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, health care services, and nutrition assistance. Beginning today, applicants may apply for two types of assistance: Recovery Grants and Impact Grants.

“Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is playing a critical role to help rural America build back better and equitably as the nation continues to respond to the pandemic,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

“Through the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants, USDA will help rural hospitals and local communities increase access to COVID-19 vaccines and testing, medical supplies, telehealth, and food assistance, and support construction or renovation of rural health care facilities to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. These investments will also help improve the long-term viability of rural health care providers across the nation,” he added.

The Biden-Harris Administration designed Recovery Grants for public entities and nonprofit organizations while providing COVID-19 relief to support rural hospitals, health care clinics, and local communities. Learn more at:


September 14, 2021. NRCS Puerto Rico Virtual State Technical Committee Meeting, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Contact José Victor Jiménez at 787-766-5132 or for MicroSoft TEAMS meeting link.

September 16, 2021. NRCS U.S. Virgin Islands Virtual State Technical Committee Meeting, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Contact José Victor Jiménez at 787-766-5132 or for MicroSoft TEAMS meeting link.



USDA  St. Croix Service Center

USDA-Farm Service Agency

4401 Estate Sion Hill, Suite 2

Christiansted, VI 00820-4245

Phone: 340-773-9146 ext. 100
Fax: 855-478-8386

Mark Carlton, District Director

Mark Carlton 352-448-2310

Madison Charles, Program Technician

Madison Charles 340-773-9146 ext. 100

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.