Farmers who are interested in participating in USDA's new supplemental disaster assistance program for 2008—called SURE--need to sign up before the September 16 deadline.
As the Sept. 16 deadline approaches, time is running out to apply for this important ag disaster assistance program. The Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program, or SURE as it is called, can help Iowans after the historic storms and floods of 2008. Iowa officials are encouraging all farmers who may be eligible to contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency office to take advantage of this program.
The SURE disaster program is included in the 2008 Farm Bill which became law in June. USDA's Farm Service Agency is carrying out the SURE program. SURE replaces the ad hoc disaster programs used over the past several farm bills.
Sept. 16 is final date for 2008
The SURE program offers yield loss assistance for crops that are not fully covered by crop insurance or by the new noninsured crop disaster assistance program--NAP. That includes grazing lands.
SURE will be offered to farmers each year, says Kevin McClure, program specialist with USDA's Farm Service Agency state office in Des Moines. But for 2008, you have to sign up with FSA by the end of the day on September 16. Farmers who miss the September 16 deadline will not be eligible for 2008 supplemental disaster assistance.
The 2008 Farm Bill requires farmers who want to participate in disaster programs to have crop insurance or NAP coverage for the land for which assistance is being requested, and for all farms in all counties where they have an interest.
Buy-in program is only for 2008
Since the farm bill was enacted after insurance application time periods closed for crops for 2008, farmers who didn't have crop insurance couldn't comply with this requirement in order to be eligible for new SURE disaster program.
Thus, USDA is offering a "buy-in" for 2008 for the SURE program and the buy-in only effects eligibility for the 2008 disaster program. Payment of the appropriate buy-in fee does not give the farmer actual crop insurance or NAP coverage.
The 2008 eligibility buy-in fee for SURE is $100 per crop, but not more than $300 per farmer per county, or $900 total per farmer for all counties. Buy-in fees aren't required for crops already covered by CAT or NAP. Farmers who meet the definition of socially disadvantaged, beginning farmer or ranchers or limited resource farmers or ranchers can have the eligibility fees waived.
Don't confuse SURE with ACRE
Don't get USDA's new SURE program confused with the ACRE program. Both are programs offered by the new 2008 Farm Bill. ACRE is the Average Crop Revenue Election program which will be available for farmers in 2009. ACRE is a crop revenue guarantee program to help farmers cope with volatile markets, high crop prices and rising input costs. Farmers who sign up for ACRE will receive payments if revenues fall below a certain level.
"SURE is USDA's new crop disaster program," says McClure "With passage of the new farm bill, USDA is introducing the SURE program to replace the ad hoc disaster programs that came along whenever there was a crop disaster."
"We're doing away with the old disaster-type programs. There is a deadline to sign-up for SURE for 2008—and that deadline is September 16. You need to get to your county FSA office before September 16 if you have a crop loss this year and want to participate in SURE for the 2008 crop."
Crop insurance is required for SURE
To be eligible for SURE, the requirement is that your insurable crops must have crop insurance on them. "All of your noninsurable crops must have what's called NAP or the Non-insurable Assistance Program—which is a policy with us at FSA," says McClure.
"So for 2008, since we've passed the deadlines to buy crop insurance, we have what a buy-in program. Farmers can come into FSA by September 16 if they do not have the coverage on all their insurable crops and or if they don't have the coverage on their noninsurable crops—then they can pay the buy-in fee."
For insurable crops FSA calls it a CAT buy-in fee. Say you have corn, soybeans and oats—and you've purchased buy-in for corn and beans, then you get a credit of $100 for each of those crops or $200. FSA would charge you $100 for oats.
Then for the NAP or non-insured assistance program, for non-insurable crops, FSA charges the same.
There is a cap on fees for SURE
There are caps. The farmer is charged $100 per crop, up to $300 max for insurable crops and the same for noninsurable crops. If it's a multi-county producer, then there's a $900 cap for all crops. Again, that's insurable vs. non-insurable. So the maximum this farmer would have to pay would be $1,800.
Do you need to cover every crop? That's a very important point, says McClure. With SURE the requirement is—all crops must be covered.
"Now, the insurance agents are taking on more of these insurable crops that maybe farmers haven't covered in the past" he notes, "such as forage. If you have alfalfa, and that is an insurable crop in your particular county, then that crop must be covered as well as corn and soybeans if you want to be eligible for the SURE program. You'll need to consider getting crop insurance on the alfalfa."