USDA will begin sign-up for the 2004 Crop Disaster Assistance Program on March 14, Agriculture Department officials announced today.

Speaking at USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum in Washington D.C., Undersecretary of Agriculture J.B. Penn said farmers should be able to begin signing up for the program on March 14. Payments should be going out to farmers by the end of March.

Farmers in the Mid-South, many of whom suffered crop losses due to the extremely wet conditions in the spring of 2004, have been questioning when USDA would complete the regulations and begin sign-up for the program.

“We are on track for beginning sign-up for the program on March 14, and the payments will begin to be dispersed before the end of the month,” said Penn, Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.