FARMINGTON – Franklin County farmers are eligible to apply for financial assistance for crop losses caused by adverse weather conditions during the 2001 or 2002 growing seasons.

Approximately $2 billion is available for the Crop Disaster Program.

“Local weather conditions have shifted from one extreme to another,” said Gary J. Raymond, director of the Franklin County Farm Service Agency office. “This spring hasn’t been easy for farmers who have already suffered from two previous years of perilous weather. Farmers could use a break, both weather-wise and financially.”

Under the program, producers will be reimbursed for qualifying production and quality losses for either the 2001 or 2002 crop year. To be eligible, crop losses must exceed 35 percent of expected production. Payments will be issued based on 50 percent of the established price for insured crops, crops enrolled in Farm Service Agency’s Non-insured Assistance Program, and crops for which insurance was not available. Farmers who chose not to insure eligible crops will receive only 45 percent of the established price. Funding is limited to $80,000 per producer.

Uninsured farmers who receive assistance on a crop that is insurable will be required to purchase “buy-up” insurance coverage for the next two growing seasons. If insurance isn’t purchased for either of the years, then the disaster payment must be refunded with interest.

“We encourage farmers to explore pricing options with their local crop insurance agents now so they can factor that cost into their future operating plan,” Raymond said.

Producers may also review pricing options on the Risk Management Agency Web site at www.rma.usda.gov. Using the “tools and calculator” option, farmers can calculate premiums for insurable crops in their county. Rates may not be available for 2004 crops, but producers can get an idea of cost levels using 2003 data. Prices vary depending on a number of factors, but this calculator is a tool to help farmers estimate premium costs.

If insurance is not available, producers will be required to buy non-insured crop coverage from the Farm Service Agency for the next two years. Non-insured coverage costs $100 per crop with a maximum limit of $300 per county.

Raymond encourages producers to begin organizing relevant crop loss documentation and contact the Farm Service Agency office to schedule an appointment to discuss program eligibility. The application closing date has not been announced, but producers will be given ample opportunity to complete the process.

For more information, farmers should contact the Franklin County Farm Service Agency office at 778-2788, extension 2.



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