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USDA implements disaster program

The United States Department of Agriculture has implemented the new Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments program (SURE) in accordance with the 2008 Farm Bill.

Daniel Robinson, USDA’s Farm Service Agency state executive director, said producers are encourage to visit their FSA county office beginning January 4 to participate in the program if they suffered crop production losses during the 2008 crop year.

“This program is an important component of the farm safety net and will provide financial assistance to producers who have suffered crop losses due to natural disasters,” said Robinson. “Producers will receive payments beginning in January, in time to help them with planning for next year’s crop.”

Jeff Knotts, Pike-Bullock Farm Service Agency executive director, said SURE provides crop disaster assistance payments to eligible producers on farms that have incurred crop production or crop quality losses.

“SURE is a permanent disaster program that is different from past disaster programs in that it is based on total farm income,” Knotts said. “It includes farm income wherever a producer farms.”

Total farm revenue takes into account the actual value of production on the farm, as well as insurance indemnities and certain farm program payments.

Knotts said the year 2008 was a relatively good year for farmers in Pike County but producers who have incurred any loss during that year will need to visit the local FSA office so that any losses incurred can be run through the system.

Knotts said that a loss on one crop could be offset by a productive crop.

“A producer might lose his corn crop but have a bumper peanut crop so he would not necessarily be eligible for the disaster program,” he said. “It depends on total farm income and everything is computed.”

The SURE program takes the place of any additional disaster program and each farmer will stand on his own merit.

“This program will always be a year after because data must be collected to establish yields and rates,” Knotts said. “The program takes into consideration crop losses on all crops grown by a producer nationwide.According to Robinson, SURE provides assistance in an amount equal to 60 percent of the difference between the SURE farm guarantee and total farm revenue. The farm guarantee is based on the amount of crop insurance and Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage on the farm.

In addition to meeting the risk management purchase requirement, a producer must have a farming interest physically located in a county that was declared a primary disaster county or contiguous county by the Agriculture Secretary under a Secretarial Disaster Designation.

Regardless 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.

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.

For 2008 crops, producers had the opportunity to obtain a waiver of the risk management purchase requirement through a buy-in provision. 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.