Help Extended to Hurricane-Weary Farmers Dealing With Disaster
[updated Oct. 9, 10:00 a.m.]
In the wake of major hurricanes Harvey and Irma, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has announced special procedures to assist producers who lost crops, livestock or had other damage to their farms as a result of the two storms. In addition, because of the severe and widespread damage caused by the hurricanes, USDA will provide additional flexibility to assist farm loan borrowers.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), is authorizing emergency procedures on a case-by-case basis to assist impacted borrowers, livestock owners, contract growers, and other producers. The measures apply only to counties impacted by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-determined tropical storm, typhoon, or hurricane, including Harvey and Irma that have received a primary Presidential Disaster Declaration and those counties contiguous to such designated counties.
Financially stressed FSA farm loan borrowers affected by the hurricanes who have received primary loan servicing applications may be eligible for 60-day extensions.
A more complete listing of all of the special farm program provisions is posted at https://go.usa.gov/xRe8p.
Among the actions are lengthened deadlines for certain provisions under the Marketing Assistance Loan program, the Farm Storage Facility Loan Program, the Emergency Conservation Program, the Emergency Forest Restoration Program, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, and the Tree Assistance Program.
What Affected Farmers Should Do Now
Farmers and ranchers affected by the hurricanes are urged to keep thorough records of all losses, as well as expenses for such things as feed purchases and other extraordinary costs because of lost supplies and or increased transportation costs.
Producers with coverage through USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) administered federal crop insurance program should contact their crop insurance agent for issues regarding filing claims. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses. Producers should report crop damage within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days. The Approved Insurance Providers (AIP), loss adjusters and agents are experienced and well trained in handling these types of events. For more information, visit https://www.rma.usda.gov/news/stormdisaster.html.
In anticipation of flooding due to Hurricane Harvey, RMA took several proactive steps to ensure the efficient and reliable delivery of the crop insurance program. RMA authorized the use of emergency loss adjustment procedures to streamline certain loss determinations on specific crops and accelerated the adjustment of losses and issuance of indemnity payments to policyholders in all Texas and Louisiana counties impacted by Hurricane Harvey. RMA is reviewing the need for additional measures in response to Hurricane Irma.
USDA encourages all farmers and ranchers to contact their crop insurance agents and their local FSA office, as applicable, to report damages. To find the FSA office nearest you, please visit https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app. Additional resources to help farmers and ranchers deal with flooding and other damage may be found at www.usda.gov/disaster.
Heads Up, Citrus Growers!
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has activated a $25 million Florida Citrus Emergency Loan Program to support citrus growers impacted by Hurricane Irma. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide interest-free loans to citrus growers that experienced physical or economic damage during the storm. The application period will be open through November 30.
DEO will administer the Florida Citrus Emergency Loan Program in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network to provide cash flow to businesses damaged by a disaster. The interest-free loans will help bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of crop insurance claims or federal disaster recovery appropriations. Up to $25 million has been allocated for the program.
Citrus growers who maintain a citrus grove in production in any of Florida’s 67 counties affected by Hurricane Irma can apply for loans up to $150,000. These interest-free loans are granted in terms of up to one year. To be eligible, a grower must have been established prior to Sept. 4, 2017, and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Irma.
To complete an application by the deadline, or for more information on the program, visit Floridadisasterloan.org.