Johanns Announces Sign-Up Begins May 17 For 2005 Hurricane Assistance Programs | USDA Newsroom
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News Release
  Release No. 0150.06
Contact:
Ed Loyd (202) 720-4623
Stevin Westcott (202) 720-4178

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  JOHANNS ANNOUNCES SIGN-UP BEGINS MAY 17 FOR 2005 HURRICANE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
 

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2006 - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced that sign-up begins May 17, 2006, for four crop and livestock assistance programs providing aid to producers affected by the destructive 2005 hurricanes. These programs are funded by $250 million in Section 32 funds authorized immediately following these destructive storms.

"We will do everything we can at USDA to continue to help people who have suffered through hurricanes and lost their crops, or who need help with cleanup or rebuilding their communities," said Johanns. "I strongly support targeted assistance to help people who are in need. USDA has been very aggressive in finding the resources to provide nearly five billion dollars in Hurricane assistance."

The four programs - Livestock Indemnity Program, Feed Indemnity Program, Hurricane Indemnity Program and Tree Indemnity Program - are funded through Section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935. Johanns authorized the use of $250 million from Section 32 funds in October 2005 for crop disaster, livestock, tree and aquaculture assistance.

To be eligible for this assistance, a producer's loss must have occurred in one of 261 counties that received a primary presidential or secretarial disaster designation due to 2005 Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Ophelia, Rita or Wilma. Assistance is unavailable with respect to losses in contiguous counties. A list of the eligible counties in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas is available at: http://www.usda.gov/HurricaneInfo.xml.

Livestock Indemnity Program

The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible livestock owners and contract growers who incurred the death of livestock due to the hurricanes. To determine payments, USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) will multiply the number of eligible livestock by the payment rate of: (1) for livestock owners, 75 percent of the livestock's average fair market value; or (2) for contract growers, 75 percent of the average sustained income loss. More information on LIP is available in the online LIP fact sheet at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

To be eligible for this assistance, a producer's loss must have occurred in one of 261 counties that received a primary presidential or secretarial disaster designation due to 2005 Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Ophelia, Rita or Wilma. Assistance is unavailable with respect to losses in contiguous counties. A list of the eligible counties in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas is available at: http://www.usda.gov/HurricaneInfo.xml.

Feed Indemnity Program

The Feed Indemnity Program (FIP) will provide payments to eligible livestock owners and cash lessees who suffered feed losses or increased feed costs due to the hurricanes. To calculate program payments, FSA will multiply the national payment rate established for each livestock category by the number of eligible livestock. More information on FIP is available in the online FIP fact sheet at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

Hurricane Indemnity Program

The Hurricane Indemnity Program (HIP) will provide payments to eligible producers who suffered crop losses and received either a Federal Crop Insurance Corporation crop insurance indemnity or a FSA Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) payment. Producers' HIP benefits will equal 30 percent of the crop insurance indemnity or 30 percent of the NAP payment. More information on HIP is available in the online HIP fact sheet at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

Tree Indemnity Program

The Tree Indemnity Program (TIP) will provide payments to eligible owners of commercially grown fruit trees, nut trees, bushes and vines that produce an annual crop and were lost or damaged due to the hurricanes. FSA will base TIP payments on the crop's proximity to the hurricanes based on established tiers, which reflect the severity of damage from least to most severe. More information on TIP is available in the online TIP fact sheet at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

Aquaculture Grants

USDA is also providing $25 million in block grants to the state governments of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas from Section 32 funds. The funds are to provide assistance to producers raising aquaculture species in a controlled environment as part of a farming operation. Governors or their designees will determine sign-up procedures for the assistance and will distribute the funds to eligible aquaculture producers to help them recover from the devastating effects of the hurricanes of 2005. More information on the aquaculture grants is available in the online fact sheet at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

Additional Disaster Assistance

On Dec. 30, 2005, President Bush signed the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act, which provides $900 million to address natural disaster damages from 2005 hurricanes. Of these funds, approximately $200 million is designated for the Emergency Conservation Program, $400 million for the Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program, and $300 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (which is available to communities and landowners in Tennessee, in addition to those in the six previously mentioned states). Sign-up dates for the Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program will be announced as soon as new regulations and software are developed.

USDA has already made $63 million in Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funds available to assist agricultural producers struck by hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico region during the calendar year 2005. Eligible agricultural producers may receive up to 100 percent cost-share to remove debris and restore fences and conservation structures.

Additional funds for oyster, nursery and poultry producers and forest landowners will be made available when new rules authorizing assistance are published in the Federal Register. USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) is developing these rules and plans to publish proposed rules for public comment in the near future.

Emergency Loan Assistance

USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) currently has $156 million in low-interest emergency (EM) loan funds available to help farmers and ranchers rebuild their operations.

In certain cases, FSA can provide producers with both EM and operating loans to assist them with spring operations. Eligible producers who expect to receive future hurricane disaster payments from USDA may receive loans now and assign the disaster funds to EM loan payments. Emergency loan funds may be used to: restore or replace essential property; pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year; pay essential family living expenses; reorganize the farming operation and refinance certain debts.

To apply for an EM loan, producers are encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center. An FSA fact sheet explaining the loan application process step-by-step and is available at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

Rebuilding Rural Communities

In addition to the funds for farmers and ranchers, the Defense Appropriations Act of 2006 contains $1.6 billion in Rural Development program assistance that is currently available to rural areas and communities in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas that have been designated as hurricane disaster areas.

More than $1.5 billion will assist rural residents with housing needs in the affected areas through guaranteed and direct housing loans, as well as loans and grants for home repairs. Applicant age restrictions for housing rehabilitation grants are being waived, and population limits for eligible communities are increased to 50,000. In addition, population limits for the cities of Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi; Kenner, Louisiana; and the Quad Cities, Hartselle and Decatur, Alabama have also been waived.

An additional $45 million in grant funds will be made available to rebuild, repair or improve water and waster disposal systems. Rural electric cooperatives will have available $8 million for loan modifications and $50 million in loan guarantees is being issued to respond to damaged telecommunications services in the designated disaster areas.

Further information about this hurricane disaster assistance can be viewed on USDA Rural Development's website at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov, click on Available Funds or by contacting a Rural Development office in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi or Texas.

Crop Insurance Prevented Planting Coverage

The tidal surge of Hurricane Rita inundated acreage with saltwater in some areas of Southwest Louisiana in September of 2005. As a result, soil in areas affected by hurricane surge in 2005 may have a high saline content, making the soil unsuitable for planting for the 2006 crop year. Federal crop insurance will cover prevented planting losses in those areas, for crops with prevented planting provisions such as rice and soybeans. Producers who had federal crop insurance in 2005 will be able to file a claim for insurance indemnity if the soil was not suitable at planting time.

The Risk Management Agency, which administers the Federal crop insurance program, requires that producers use good farming practices to be eligible for insurance payments. In the case of high salinity soil, this would include documentation that the soil was indeed too high in saline content to support plant growth. More information is available at www.rma.usda.gov.

Producers purchasing crop insurance for the first time in 2006, would not be eligible for prevented planting coverage at this time because the hurricane surge occurred before the 2006 policy coverage took effect. Farmers with questions about insurance payments for saline soil related prevented planting losses should contact their insurance company or agent and should take care to document soil tests or other means of showing that high salinity exists.

Additional information about USDA hurricane assistance is available at USDA Service Centers nationwide and online at http://www.usda.gov/HurricaneInfo.xml.