Have a Disaster on Your Hands?


Guest Editorial: USDA Montana Farm Service Agency Disaster Programs

by Richard “Dick” Deschamps,

Acting State Executive Director

USDA Montana Farm Service Agency

As flooding sweeps parts of Montana, it’s an important time to discuss disaster and emergency programs that may be available to farmers and ranchers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Montana Farm Service Agency (FSA).

If farmers intended to plant crops/acres this spring and were prevented from planting due to a natural disaster such as flooding, producers must file a CCC-576, Notice of Loss, within 15 calendar days of the final planting date for the crops/acres with their county FSA office. This applies to all crops, whether covered by crop insurance, not covered by insurance, or covered by FSA’s Non-insured Assistance Program (NAP). Final planting dates vary by crop. Reporting could impact future program benefits. In addition, federal crop insurance policyholders are reminded to notify their crop insurance companies of the planting conditions so they’re aware of potential prevented planting.

FSA administers several important programs that help producers recover from disaster damage and livestock deaths through 49 FSA county offices located in communities across Montana.

Some of FSA’s programs are available without a presidential or secretarial disaster designation while others require a designation as part of the farm program eligibility. A Presidential major disaster declaration can be made within days or hours of the initial request. FEMA immediately notifies FSA of the primary counties named in a Presidential declaration. USDA Secretarial disaster designations must be requested of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture by the Governor or by a Tribal Council Chairman/President. Primary disaster counties are those that lose at least 30 percent of the estimated yield of a single crop, or where individual farmers suffer production losses greater than 30 percent.

Among the key FSA programs available to address impacts from disasters that do not require a disaster declaration are the Following:

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) provides emergency funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought; Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) provides assistance to producers for livestock deaths that result from eligible adverse weather events. Producers who suffer livestock death losses should submit a notice of loss within 30 calendar days after the loss occurs or was apparent and an application for payment to the local FSA service center that maintains the farm records for their business; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency relief to producers of livestock, honey bees, and farm-raised fish. Covers losses from disaster such as adverse weather or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires not adequately covered by any other disaster program; Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occurs due to natural disasters; Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) provides payments to eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) land in order to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster; Tree Assistance Program (TAP) provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists to replace eligible trees, bushes, and vines damaged by natural disasters.

FSA loan program that requires either a presidential or a secretarial disaster designation is:

Emergency Loan Program (EL) helps producers recover from production and physical losses due to natural disasters. Producers can borrow up to 100 percent of actual production or physical losses, to a maximum amount of $500,000. Producers will be eligible to apply for these loans as soon as their county is declared a Presidential or Secretarial disaster county. Emergency loan funds may be used to: restore or replace essential property; pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year; pay essential family living expenses; reorganize the farming operation; and refinance certain debts.

The FSA disaster program that requires a primary or contiguous county secretarial disaster designation is:

Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program – To be eligible for SURE, producers must have suffered at least a 10 percent production loss on a crop of economic significance. In addition, producers must meet the risk management purchase requirement by either obtaining a policy or plan of insurance, under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or NAP coverage, for all economically significant crops. Producers considered socially disadvantaged, a beginning farmer or rancher, or a limited resource farmer may be eligible for SURE without a policy or plan of insurance or NAP coverage. In the absence of a Secretarial Disaster Designation, individual producers may also be eligible for SURE if the actual production on the farm is less than 50 percent of the normal production on the farm due to a natural disaster. For SURE, a farm is defined as all crops in which a producer had an interest nationwide. FSA sign-up for the SURE crop disaster program for the 2009 crop year continues and the deadline is July 29.

For more information, contact your FSA county office. Fact sheets for all of these programs can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov; click on Newsroom, then Fact Sheet, or on the state website at www.fsa.usda.gov/mt under Programs.

Source: MT FSA

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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