U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced new details on eligibility for a new disaster program, the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). In total, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will deploy up to $2.36 billion that Congress appropriated through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to help producers with recovery of their agricultural operations in at least nine states with hurricane damage and states impacted by wildfire.
“Last year our nation experienced some of the most significant disasters we have seen in decades, some back-to-back, at the most critical time in their production year. While USDA has a suite of disaster programs as well as crop insurance available to help producers manage their risk, Congress felt it was important to provide extra assistance to our nation’s farms and ranches that were the hardest hit last year,” Secretary Perdue said. “At President Trump’s direction, our team is working as quickly as possible to make this new program available to farmers in need. Our aim is to provide excellent customer service, building on efforts which began the day the storm hit.”
Key Updates Include:
- Hurricane Recovery: To be eligible a crop, tree, bush, or vine must be located in a primary disaster county with either a Presidential declaration or a Secretarial designation due to a 2017 hurricane. Crops, trees, bushes, or vines located in other counties may also be eligible if the producer provides documentation the loss was caused by a 2017 hurricane.
- Wildfire Recovery: Any crop, tree, bush or vine, damaged by a 2017 wildfire is eligible.
- Eligible Producers: Eligibility will be determined on an individual basis, using the level of insurance coverage purchased for 2017 for the total crop acres on the area for which the WHIP application is made. Eligible producers who certify to an average adjusted gross income (AGI) of at least 75 percent derived from farming or ranching, including other agriculture and forestry-based businesses during the tax years 2013, 2014, and 2015, will be eligible for a $900,000 payment limitation with verification. All other eligible producers requesting 2017 WHIP benefits will be subject to a $125,000 payment limitation.
- Crop Insurance Requirement: Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for WHIP. However, all producers opting to receive 2017 WHIP payments will be required to purchase crop insurance at the 60 percent coverage level, or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) at the 60 percent buy up coverage level if crop insurance is not available. Coverage must be in place for the next two applicable crop years to meet program requirements.
- Acreage Reporting Requirements: In addition, for the applicable crop years, all producers are required to file an acreage report and report production (if applicable).
- Payment Formula: FSA will calculate WHIP payments with this formula: Payment = Expected Value of the Crop x WHIP Factor – Value of Crop Harvested – Insurance Indemnity
Drought, wildfires, and other disasters continue to impact farmers and ranchers, and 2017 WHIP is just one of many programs available through USDA to help with recovery. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 provided funding for ECP and the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The Act also provided amendments to make programs like the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish Program, Tree Assistance Program and Livestock Indemnity Program even more responsive.