USDA offers disaster assistance for NC farmers hurt in 2018, 2019

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Agricultural producers affected by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019, including Hurricane Dorian, can apply for assistance through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+), a U.S. Department of Agriculture program.

“There is no doubt that extreme weather has greatly impacted North Carolina’s agricultural producers over the last several years, and 2019 is no exception,” said Len McBride, executive director for Farm Service Agency in North Carolina. “With record amounts of crops prevented from planting nationwide and other devastation, more than $3 billion is available through this disaster relief package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in early June.”

WHIP+ eligibility

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). Disaster losses must have been a result of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms or wildfires that occurred in 2018 or 2019. Also, producers in counties that did not receive a disaster declaration or designation may still apply for WHIP+ but must provide supporting documentation to establish that the crops were directly affected by a qualifying disaster loss. 

A list of counties that received qualifying disaster declarations and designations is available at bit.ly/2WQB8xF. Because grazing and livestock losses, other than milk losses, are covered by other disaster recovery programs offered through Farm Service, those losses are not eligible for WHIP+.

Eligible crops include those for which federal crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program coverage is available, excluding crops intended for grazing. A list of crops covered by crop insurance is available through USDA’s Risk Management Agency Actuarial Information Browser online.

The WHIP+ payment factor ranges from 75% to 95%, depending on the level of crop insurance coverage or noninsured crop disaster coverage that a producer obtained for the crop. Producers who did not insure their crops in 2018 or 2019 will receive 70% of the expected value of the crop. Insured crops (either crop insurance or noninsured crop disaster coverage) will receive between 75% and 95% of expected value; those who purchased the highest levels of coverage will receive 95% of the expected value.

At the time of sign-up, producers will be asked to provide verifiable and reliable production records. If a producer is unable to provide production records, WHIP+ payments will be determined based on the lower of either the actual loss certified by the producer and determined acceptable by Farm Service or the county expected yield and county disaster yield. The county disaster yield is the production that a producer would have been expected to make based on the eligible disaster conditions in the county.

WHIP+ payments for 2018 disasters will be eligible for 100% of their calculated value. WHIP+ payments for 2019 disasters will be limited to an initial 50% of their calculated value, with an opportunity to receive up to the remaining 50% after Jan. 1, if sufficient funding remains.

Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for WHIP+. But all producers receiving WHIP+ payments will be required to purchase crop insurance or noninsured crop disaster coverage, at the 60% coverage level or higher, for the next two available, consecutive crop years after the crop year for which WHIP+ payments were paid. Producers who fail to purchase crop insurance for the next two applicable, consecutive years will be required to pay back the WHIP+ payment.

Additional information about WHIP+ program eligibility and payment limitations can be found at farmers.gov/recover or by contacting your local USDA Service Center.

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