USDA today announced details of the long-awaited disaster aid program. Farmers affected by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019, including Hurricane Dorian, can apply for assistance through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+).
“U.S. agriculture has been dealt a hefty blow over the last several years, and 2019 is no exception,” said Under Secretary Bill Northey. “The scope of this year’s prevented planting alone is devastating, and although these disaster program benefits will not make producers whole, we hope the assistance will ease some of the financial strain farmers, ranchers and their families are experiencing. President Trump and Secretary Perdue have our farmers’ backs, and we are working to support America’s great patriot farmers.”
Losses incurred in 2018 will be paid at 100% of the damages. Losses in 2019 will be paid at 50%. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said the reason for only paying 50% of 2019 losses is to ensure there are adequate funds to pay all claims.
Stored grain in the western corn belt damaged by the “bomb cyclone” in March will be covered under the program. Because USDA believes that grain to be 2018 grain, it will be paid at 75% of the average price for 2018, according to Fordyce. USDA says flood damaged grain stored at elevators will receive aid, but there are not details on that at this time.
WHIP+ will be available for eligible producers who have suffered eligible losses of certain crops, trees, bushes or vines in counties with a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster Designation (primary counties only). With supporting documentation, producers outside of these counties are also eligible.
The payment limit on the program will be $125,000; if 75% of adjusted gross income (AGI) is from farming, the payment limit bumps up to $250,000. The last disaster program was $125,000/$900,000. A maximum of $500,000 in disaster payments will be in place over both years as this program covers 2018 and 2019 disasters.
Signup for this U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program will begin Sept. 11, 2019.
The legislation passed earlier this year also includes language about prevent-plant (PP) payments. USDA said details of the prevented plant provisions are not yet completed but should be announced “very soon.” However, Pro Farmer’s Jim Wiesemeyer put together the following FAQs about PP based on information from trusted sources:
Which producers will be eligible for an additional prevent-plant (PP) payment?
A producer qualifies if in a disaster-declared county. But there will be a process whereby if a farmer is damaged as a result of the qualifying losses, but falls outside the disaster-declared county, the producer will be able to petition his county and state FSA committee.
What will be the additional prevent-plant payment?
An additional PP payment will be provided for every producer filing a PP claim. The payment would be an additional 10% on the PP indemnity. If a producer took the Harvest Price Option (HPO), there would be an additional 5% on top of that for a total of 15%.
Who will deliver prevent-plant payments: Crop Insurance or FSA?
This is still murky. USDA reportedly has reached out to crop insurance companies and, sources say, want them to implement such payments, but not all of the details have been worked out. USDA is likely sensitive to the already hefty workload at some county FSA offices.