The new USDA disaster program, the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments or SURE, may work best for farmers who are not diversified, and producers interested in making a claim should keep accurate production records.

“A major problem with SURE is that it works best for farmers who grow only one crop,” said Francie Tolle, Oklahoma Farm Service Agency executive director. “The more diversified a farmer is the less likely SURE will be helpful.”

Tolle went over some of the specifics of the program, developed to replace the old ad hoc disaster programs, during the Oklahoma Peanut Expo at Lone Wolf, Okla.

“Farmers need to take care of business,” Tolle said. “Good records are crucial and are the key to all FSA programs. If a farmer operates as a trust or an entity, he needs to make certain he’s doing the same for all programs, FSA, NRCS, and crop insurance.” She said producers would need to go to their local FSA office to get CCC 827 or CCC 928 forms, consent to disclose tax information, and get that information completed and returned to the IRS by June 15.

Currently, IRS will need three years of income data: 2006, 2007 and 2008.

First sign-up for the program began in 2008.

Tolle said SURE considers crops differently than the old ad hoc programs did. “SURE is a whole farm disaster program and crop insurance is extremely important.” Participants must buy either Catastrophic Risk Protection (CAT) or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) to qualify.

A SURE fact sheet explains:

“In order to be eligible for a payment under SURE, you are required to purchase insurance on all crops produced each year in your farming operation. Producers in counties that have received a Secretarial Disaster Designation or that are contiguous to a county with this designation are eligible for a payment if the calculated expected revenue is less than the estimated revenue. Otherwise, it will take a 50 percent loss in production due to weather related conditions to be eligible.

“To maintain eligibility for SURE, you need to review your operation and verify that you have insurance on all crops that you have an interest in. This not only applies to traditional row crops, but includes hay, pasture, fruit and vegetables, double crop beans, etc.”

“Payments occur a year after harvest,” Tolle said, “and are based on the national average market price. It’s always a year late.”

Payment limit is $100,000. “That includes all disaster payments for the farm,” she said. “Eligible crops include anything that’s covered by crop insurance. Areas where double cropping is covered by insurance can be covered by SURE,” she said. “If double crops are not covered by insurance they will not be covered by SURE. Crops covered by NAP will be covered except for grazing.” Tolle said in 2008 all but four Oklahoma counties were declared disaster areas. In 2009 all Oklahoma counties received a disaster designation.

email: rsmith@farmpress.com