Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says producers can pay a buy-in fee to become eligible for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP) and Tree Assistance Programs (TAP) for the 2008 crop year.

The buy-in fee was authorized in the recently-passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which allows producers to become eligible for 2008 disaster assistance even if they did not previously obtain crop insurance from the Federal Crop Insurance Corp.

Farmers and ranchers have until May 18 to pay the buy-in fee.

“President Obama is providing an additional opportunity to producers who suffered losses as a result of natural disaster because he understands they are going through tough times, and he acknowledges their importance in helping stimulate the economy and create jobs,” said Vilsack.

Paying the buy-in fee does not provide the producer with crop insurance or Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage, which is normally required for eligibility for disaster programs. Instead, it permits the producer to become eligible for the 2008-crop disaster assistance programs.

To become eligible for the latter, producers must pay a $100 buy-in fee per crop by May 18. The maximum fee for insurable or noninsurable crops is $300 per county, per producer, not to exceed $900 for multi-county producers.

In the case of each insurable crop (those for which insurance is available from FCIC), excluding grazing land, agreeing to obtain a policy or plan of insurance for the next insurance year for which crop insurance is available; coverage level should equal 70 percent or more of the yield at 100 percent of the price.

In the case of each noninsurable crop, agreeing to file the required paperwork and pay the applicable administrative NAP coverage fee by the applicable state application closing date for the next available year.

Producers who choose to buy in under this provision will be considered, for insured crops for the 2008 farm bill disaster assistance programs only, to have obtained a policy or plan of insurance for the 2008 crop year at a level of coverage not to exceed 70 percent of the yield at 100 percent of the price.

For noninsurable crops for the 2008 farm bill disaster programs only, producers will be considered to have a level of coverage equal to 70 percent of the yield. These levels of coverage will be used to calculate the 2008 SURE guarantee. Producers who buy in will not be eligible for actual crop insurance or NAP benefits for the 2008 crop.

Producers who meet the definition of “Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource,” or “Beginning Farmer or Rancher,” are not required to pay the buy-in fee.

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