USDA has announced the rules and sign-up period for the 2005 crop cottonseed disaster assistance program.

Congress provided $15 million in assistance to producers and first-handlers of the 2005 crop of cottonseed in counties affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Ophelia, Rita and Wilma and any county contiguous to such a county. The funding was included in the 2006 Emergency Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act.

A fact sheet for the 2005 Cottonseed Payment Program (CPP) can be found at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/cpp06.pdf and a more detailed FSA notice is at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_Notice/cn_1011.pdf.

The notice includes applications, instructions and a list of eligible counties. A map of eligible counties developed by National Cotton Council staff is available in the Issues area of the NCC Web site, http://www.cotton.org.

First handlers of cottonseed, defined as gins that have eligible payment quantities, may apply for CPP funds. The eligible gins will calculate their payment quantity and submit the application to USDA. In general, the quantity eligible for payment is based on the total amount of cotton lint delivered to the gin in 2003 by growers in 2005 declared counties. 2003 was selected as the basis for distributing payments because that year generally reflects an average year for cotton production in counties that suffered 2005 losses due to hurricanes.

The FSA notice addresses situations for new producers or cases where producers ginned at multiple gins or switched gins between 2003 and 2005. Also, a gin not located in a declared county can apply for payments provided they ginned 2005 cotton produced in a declared county.

Lint deliveries will be converted to pounds of cottonseed by multiplying lint pounds by 1.54176. The per-ton payment rate will be calculated by dividing $15 million by the total eligible quantity, but the payment rate may not exceed $98 per ton.

Applications must be submitted by Dec. 29 via fax to 202-690-1536 or overnight mail to: USDA/FSA/PSD, Attn. Chris Kyer, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 4089-S, Washington, DC 20250-4089.

For additional information, contact Chris Kyer at 202-720-7935 or by e-mail at chris.kyer@wdc.usda.gov.