The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has started making payments through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program – Plus (WHIP+) to agricultural producers who suffered eligible losses because of drought or excess moisture in 2018 and 2019.
Signup opened March 23, but producers who suffered eligible losses may still apply.
The Alabama Farmers Federation said the program may benefit farmers whose crops were impacted by extreme weather conditions.
“Many of our farmers experienced an unusually wet harvest season in 2018 that adversely impacted crops in both quality and yield,” said Federation National Affairs Director Mitt Walker. “I would encourage farmers that believe they had losses due to excessive moisture or extreme drought in 2018 or 2019 to contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office as soon as possible to inquire about eligibility. The Federation worked closely with several members of our delegation to have these additional qualifying conditions added in the most recent consolidated appropriations bill and appreciate their support.”
To date, FSA has received more than 33,000 WHIP+ applications,” according to Administrator Richard Fordyce.
“We want to remind producers that we are still accepting applications for WHIP+, and we encourage producers to call our offices for next steps on how to apply,” he said.
To be eligible for WHIP+, producers must have suffered losses of certain crops, trees, bushes or vines in counties with a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster Designation (primary counties only) for qualifying natural disaster events that occurred in calendar years 2018 or 2019. Also, losses located in a county not designated by the Secretary as a primary county may be eligible if a producer provides documentation showing that the loss was due to a qualifying natural disaster event.
For losses due to drought, a producer is eligible if any area of the county in which the loss occurred was rated D3, or extreme drought, or higher on the U.S. Drought Monitor during calendar years 2018 or 2019. Producers who suffered losses should contact their FSA county office.
In addition to the recently added eligible losses of drought and excess moisture, FSA will implement a WHIP+ provision for crop quality loss that resulted in price deductions or penalties when marketing crops damaged by eligible disaster events. To ensure an effective program for all impacted farmers, the Agency is currently gathering information on the extent of quality loss from producers and stakeholder organizations.
USDA Service Centers, including FSA county offices, are open for business by phone only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment. More information on Service Centers can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus, and more information on WHIP+ can be found at farmers.gov/whip-plus.