In a move that is sure to make agricultural producers breathe a small sigh of relief, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that growers impacted by natural disasters in 2018 or 2019 can apply for federal assistance.
According to Farmers.gov, “The Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) provides disaster payments to producers to offset losses from hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters.”
What is WHIP+?
After a wet spring that led to delays in planting, followed by scorching summer months, the $3 billion federal aid package is a welcome response to one of the hardest years for farmers in recent memory. Losses that were incurred in 2018 will be covered 100% by the program, while 2019 losses will be paid at 50% of the damages. The county in which the losses were suffered will determine full eligibility.
USDA Under Secretary, Bill Northey, said about the assistance program, “U.S. agriculture has been dealt a hefty blow over the last several years, and 2019 is no exception. The scope of this year’s prevented planting alone is devastating, and although these disaster program benefits will not make producers whole, we hope the assistance will ease some of the financial strain farmers, ranchers and their families are experiencing.”
Who is eligible?
For producers to be eligible for the program, they must have suffered eligible losses of certain crops, trees, bushes, or vines in counties with a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster Designation.
Additionally, WHIP+ will expand payments for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), “to provide payments based on the loss of the value of the tree, bush, or vine itself.” While both insured and uninsured producers can apply for WHIP+, if payment is received, the producer will be required to purchase crop insurance or Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage.