“We are working hard to provide as much information as possible to help eligible producers sign up for these programs,” said Veneman in a press statement issued by the Agriculture Department.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency has received more than 600 e-mails with questions, suggestions, comments and concerns about the disaster programs, especially the Crop Disaster Program. In response, a significant number of questions have been posted along with answers at USDA’s Web site.

FSA has also posted a two-page document that explains the basics of the Crop Disaster Program and how to calculate program benefits. Additionally, a spreadsheet can be downloaded that will calculate potential disaster benefits by entering a few pieces of data about crop losses.

“The spreadsheet will work for typical crop losses, but not under all circumstances,” the statement said. “For example, the current spreadsheet does not handle “prevented planted” or “unharvested” acres, losses for crops with fresh and processed markets such as apples, or production that has been affected by quality.

“The formulas in the spreadsheet and the answers to the questions are for illustrative purposes and will not be finalized until the regulations are published in the Federal Register. The tools represent the best information available today so producers and lenders may begin to understand how the program will work.”

Actual calculations will be performed by the FSA Service Center once sign-up begins on June 6. The USDA Service Centers can also provide additional information once sign-up begins.

Farmers can find answers to questions and other information about the disaster signup by clicking on http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov. As new questions are submitted, frequently asked questions will be updated on a regular basis.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com