Sign-up for storm recovery to begin soon for farmers

Published 12:36 am Monday, November 16, 2009

VIDALIA — Hurricanes Gustav and Ike were more than a year ago, and the long-delayed sign-up for the federal recovery programs that were authorized following the storm could happen this month.

Gustav destroyed much of the crops still in the field when it hit in Concordia, Catahoula and Tensas parishes, among others.

The 2008 Farm Bill created a disaster relief program known as the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program, and the legislation authorizing the stimulus package earlier this year allowed farmers to retroactively qualify for SURE.

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SURE required farmers to hold a certain amount of crop insurance, but the language of the stimulus bill essentially overrode that requirement to allow those who did not have the required insurance during the 2008 growing season to qualify by paying an administrative fee.

The delay has been caused in part because the program required that the 2008 crop marketing year expire before sign-up began, and the marketing year for 2008 cotton did not end until August 2009, Concordia Parish Farm Service Agency Executive Director Kevin Case said.

Likewise, the FSA needed to know what countercyclical payments were going to be because 100 percent of the countercyclical payments would be deducted from any SURE payment.

Producers receive countercyclical payments when returns from sales and subsidies are lower than limits set by national farm policy for certain crops.

The FSA is also needs to get software that is being developed, as well as insurance data from the Risk Management Agency, Case said.

Once the proper software and information is received, though, Case said the sign-ups could start, and he anticipates it beginning before the end of the month.

“We hope to start signup by the end of November, and if we can do that hopefully we can start getting money in people’s hands in January,” he said.