Farmers have until January 14 to sign up for expanded coverage under the Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, or NAP. The program provides protection against damaging weather conditions for crops that are ineligible for federal crop insurance, including forages, fruits and vegetables, energy crops and other perennial crops.
John Whitaker, state executive director for USDA's Farm Service Agency in Iowa, says the 2014 Farm Bill expanded NAP to include buy-up protection, similar to buy-up provisions offered under the federal crop insurance program. Producers may elect buy-up coverage for each individual crop between 50% and 65% of yield, in 5% increments, at 100% of the average market price.
Previously, the program offered coverage at 55% of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50% of expected production. Producers will pay a fixed premium equal to 5.25% of the liability, according to Whitaker. These new protections will help ensure that farmers growing crops for food, fiber or livestock consumption will be better able to withstand losses due to natural disasters, he adds.
What causes of losses are covered by the new NAP?
Eligible causes of loss covered by NAP include:
• Damaging weather, such as drought, freezes, hail, excessive moisture, excessive wind or hurricanes.
• Adverse natural occurrences, such as earthquakes or flooding.
• Conditions related to damaging weather or adverse natural occurrences such as excessive heat, plant disease, volcanic smog or insect infestations.
The natural disaster must occur during the coverage period, before or during harvest, and must directly affect the eligible crop, says Whitaker. He's written about NAP in his "Farm Program FAQs" column in the January 2015 issue of Wallaces Farmer magazine.
Beginning farmers will get help from this revamped program
Beginning and limited resource farmers will receive fee waivers and premium reductions for the expanded coverage. Also, more crops are now eligible for the NAP program, he says, including expanded aquaculture production practices and sweet and biomass sorghum.
USDA, in partnership with Michigan State University and University of Illinois, has created an online resource to help producers learn more about NAP program coverage options. The online tool is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/nap. "It helps farmers determine whether their crops are eligible for NAP coverage and allows them to explore a variety of options to determine the best protection level for their farming operation," notes Whitaker.
Farmers interested in NAP are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for additional information or to schedule an appointment to apply for coverage. FSA is also accepting comments or suggestions regarding the NAP program until February 13, 2015, through the website.