Agricultural producers recovering from the effects of hurricane damages

U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Ascension--St. James Parish Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Executive Director Jamie Rodriguez reminds producers that the deadline to apply for assistance under the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP) is Nov. 16, 2018.

“USDA has been working hard to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers impacted by the 2017 wildfires and hurricanes,” said Rodriguez. “I encourage producers who have not applied to contact our office by November 16 to make an appointment.”

The program was authorized by Congress earlier this year by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

Eligible crops, trees, bushes, or vines, located in a county declared in a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or Secretarial Disaster Designation as a primary county are eligible for assistance if the producer suffered a loss as a result of a hurricane during calendar year 2017. Also, losses located in a county not designated as a primary county may be eligible if the producer provides documentation showing that the loss was due to a hurricane or wildfire in 2017. A list of counties that received qualifying hurricane declarations and designations is available at https://www.farmers.gov/recover/whip. Eligibility is determined by Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees.

Agricultural production losses due to conditions caused by last year’s wildfires and hurricanes, including excessive rain, high winds, flooding, mudslides, fire, and heavy smoke, could qualify for assistance through the program. Typically, 2017 WHIP is only designed to provide assistance for production losses, however, if quality was taken into consideration under the insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) policy, where production was further adjusted, the adjusted production will be used in calculating assistance under this program.

Eligible crops include those for which federal crop insurance or NAP coverage is available, excluding crops intended for grazing. A list of crops covered by crop insurance is available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Actuarial Information Browser at https://webapp.rma.usda.gov/apps/actuarialinformationbrowser.

Producers will be subject to payment limitations based on their average adjusted gross income.

Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for 2017 WHIP. However, all producers receiving 2017 WHIP payments will be required to purchase crop insurance and/or NAP, at the 60 percent coverage level or higher, for the next two available crop years to meet statutory requirements. Producers who fail to purchase crop insurance for the next two applicable years will be required to pay back the 2017 WHIP payment.

Each producer will be asked to provide acceptable production records which must be either verifiable or reliable production records. If a producer is unable to provide production records, USDA will calculate the production based on the higher of the producer certified production and the county disaster yield.

Contact the Ascension--St. James Parish FSA office at 225-473-8446 to make an appointment to apply. To locate your local FSA office, visit www.farmers.gov. For more information on USDA disaster assistance programs, visit https://www.farmers.gov/recover.

Contributed by United State Dept. of Agriculture