Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Signups for farm disaster aid begin Wednesday

Starting Wednesday, farmers hit by natural disasters in 2018 or this year will be able to sign up for aid at their local U.S. Department of Agriculture offices, as long as they live in counties where a disaster was declared. The aid is being offered under the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus, and covers damage caused by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, snowstorms, and wildfires (as well as typhoons and volcanoes), Chris Clayton reports for DTN/The Progressive Farmer. WHIP+ will pay a maximum of $125,000 per individual per year, but the limit could increase to $250,000 if at least 75 percent of a farmer's income is from farm production.

"The WHIP+ focuses only on crops and does not include livestock losses. The program will provide aid for production losses and cover from 75% to 95% of losses, depending on crop insurance coverage or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance policies," Clayton reports. "Farmers who did not insure crops will receive 70% of the expected value of the crop."

The program also covers prevented planting for some uninsured farmers. It will also compensate losses of crops or hay stored on farms under the On-Farm Storage Loss Program. Heavy flooding and snowstorms destroyed some of the crops farmers had stored on their land this spring; many farmers stored their crops (especially soybeans) after they couldn't sell last year because of the trade war. 

The WHIP+ aid is in addition to the $3 billion for livestock and crops allocated in the disaster-aid bill passed in June, but there are some caveats to the new aid because of the overlap. "Farmers who were affected by 2018 disasters, such as hurricanes Florence and Michael, as well as California wildfires, will be eligible for 100% of their payments," Clayton reports. "Yet, WHIP+ payments for 2019 disasters will be limited to an initial 50% of their value with the possibility of receiving the other 50% of their payments after Jan. 1, 2020, 'if sufficient funding remains,' USDA stated."

USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce said they limited that reimbursement to 50% in case more disasters happen later this year. "The 50% for 2019 just allows us to manage the funds' availability of the program. We don't know what's yet to come," Fordyce told Clayton.

No comments: