The disaster assistance program provided for by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill is finally in place. Sign-up began this week at county Farm Service Agency offices. It's the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program, commonly called SURE in FSA circles.
Julia Wickard, executive director of the Indiana FSA office, says the best thing producers can do is visit their local FSA office to see if they qualify for assistance under this program. SURE is based upon the 2008 crop year. It's designed for those who suffered crop production losses that year. In Indiana, 2008 featured the terrible flood in June, and the remnants of a hurricane that affected northern Indiana in mid-September. Pocket droughts rounded out the weather menu for Indiana farmers in 2008.
In fact, every county in the state has farms that could potentially qualify under this disaster program, Wickard relates. The program centers around counties that were declared disaster areas for crop production purposes by the Secretary of Agriculture. Under FSA rules, farmers in adjoining counties to those where the disaster was declared are also eligible if they suffered losses as well.
The losses can be due to production drops, measured in yield, or crop quality losses that led to lower income. SURE provides assistance in an amount equal to 60% of the difference between the SURE farm guarantee and total farm revenue. The farm guarantee under SURE is based upon the amount of crop insurance and Non-insured Crop disaster assistance program coverage on the farm. Total farm revenue counts both actual value of production plus insurance indemnities paid for losses, plus payments from certain farm programs.
Eligibility rules begin with assuming the producer suffered at least a 10% production loss on a crop of economic significance. The producer must also meet the risk management purchase requirement. However, for 2008, producers could obtain a waiver form the risk management purchase requirement through a 'buy-in' provision.
It's a complicated program with many details embedded in the rules and fine print. That's why Wickard believes the best advice is for producers who suffered any type of loss in '08 to visit their local FSA office. Work with office staff to determine if you should sign up for SURE assistance.
In the meantime, you can learn more about SURE on the Web. Visit: www.fsa.usda.gov.