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Deadline next month for farmers to apply for disaster assistance

Sunday, February 10, 2013

(Photo)
Wayne Hoffman stands in one of his corn fields Aug. 4, 2011, near Old Appleton. Hoffman farms about 230 acres of corn.
(Laura Simon)
Wayne Hoffman farms corn, beans, wheat and cattle in north Cape Girardeau County, "a little bit of everything" so that he can get by. Because of drought losses last year, he filed for reimbursement from the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program [NAP].

"If I wouldn't have had the insurance, I probably would be broke," Hoffman said.

Farmers have until March 15 to apply for NAP, which provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur because of natural disasters, according to a news release from Terry Birk, executive director for the Cape Girardeau County Farm Service Agency [FSA]. Coverage includes insurance for native forage and pasture, as well as most spring-seeded crops.

The government pays about 60 percent of the premium, Hoffman said, otherwise farmers could not afford coverage.

The farmers' share is $250 per crop, per producer, per year, with a cap of $750 per county or $1,875 for multicounty producers. The maximum yearly benefit is $100,000.

The insurance was helpful, he said, but uncertainty because of the lack of a long-term farm bill makes long-term planning difficult.

"We still need a farm bill," Hoffman said.

NAP was extended along with other provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill. Instead of implementing the 2012 U.S. Farm Bill -- also known as the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 and the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 -- to replace the 2008 version, which expired with the federal fiscal year Sept. 30, a retroactive one-year extension of the previous version was enacted. The issue will be taken up by Congress in September.

"Nobody knows what is going to happen after that; that's the problem," Hoffman said.

Other disaster provisions of the farm bill were extended, but not funded, so farmers cannot access them. For example, the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program, designed to compensate eligible producers for a portion of crop losses that are not eligible for an indemnity payment under NAP, will require separate legislation to be funded.

Also announced was a microloan program of up to $35,000 for farmers and ranchers to help fund operational or startup costs. The loans will have an interest rate of 1.25 percent and can have a term of up to seven years.

For more information, contact the FSA at 573-243-1467 or visit www.fsa.usda.gov.

salderman@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

Old Appleton, Mo.


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