By the end of June, the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared a state of disaster in 30 counties in the southern half of Wisconsin including Adams, Calumet, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, La Crosse, Lafayette, Manitowoc, Marquette, Milwaukee, Monroe, Ozaukee, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Sheboygan, Vernon, Washington, Waukesha and Winnebago counties.
By early July, Wisconsin residents received approximately $28.5 million in federal and state disaster assistance grants. Officials continue to urge farmers, homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained storm and flood-related damage to register by calling 1-800-462-FEMA (3362) or registering online at www.fema.gov.
According to Paul Dietmann, director of the farm and rural services bureau at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, farmers should check with several state and federal agencies including Farm Service Agenc, FEMA and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to see if they qualify for assistance.
"We're strongly encouraging farmers to report their damage to their local FSA office because there is a permanent disaster assistance program that was created under the 2008 farm bill which just became law in June," Dietmann explains. "There will actually be an opportunity to get retroactive coverage for this year for insured and uninsured crops, if they pay the late fee by Aug. 20. That's why it's important that farmers report any damage."
Dietmann says he is concerned that some farmers in southwestern Wisconsin hit hard by flooding in August 2007 may choose not to report damage from the June flooding.
"They may not see a need to report because they can only receive disaster assistance in one out of three years, but we're telling them not to jump to that conclusion. Under the new farm bill there are several new supplemental disaster assistance programs including DAP283 and SURE."
What is DAP283 and SURE?
DAP283 creates a trust fund to fund recovery efforts from the floods.
SURE, which stands for Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments, can help eligible producers in disaster designated counties. Farmers must have taken out crop insurance for insured crops. It also helps producers who did not take out crop insurance and have suffered losses greater than 50%.
Some farmers may receive assistance from the Livestock Indemnity Program, which is new under the 2008 farm bill. Farmers who "experience anything in excess of normal loss" are eligible under this program, "but they need to have a third party, such as a vet, verify their losses," Dietmann says. The producer will receive 75% of fair market value for any livestock lost due to flooding.
"We're hoping they (federal government) comes out with a Emergency Conservation Program to repair fences, field roads, culverts and grassed waterways," Dietmann says.
If you have any questions about disaster assistance, you may call your local FSA office or the Wisconsin Farm Center. The toll-free number is 800-942-2474.