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USDA taking applications from P.R. farmers recovering from Hurricane María

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that agricultural producers in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane María in 2017 may now apply for assistance to help recover and rebuild their farming operations.

Signup begins July 16, 2018, and continues through Nov. 16, 2018, Puerto Rico Acting State Executive Director of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency Wanda Pérez said.

Any crop, tree, bush, or vine, located in a county declared in a Presidential disaster declaration or a Secretarial designation as a primary county is eligible for the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP,) authorized by Congress earlier this year by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, if the owner suffered a loss due to a 2017 hurricane.

While the program is available in much of the country, USDA is calculating payments differently in Puerto Rico because of damages to offices and the agriculture industry. USDA is asking Puerto Rican producers to provide crop acres and percent of crop loss.

USDA is calculating the loss using the insurance or national crop tables (NCT) price multiplied by the expected yield times the producers crop acres. The actual value of the crop is being calculated using the insurance or NCT price multiplied by the expected yield multiplied the reciprocal of the producer-certified percent of loss multiplied by the producer’s crop acres.

Eligibility will be determined for each producer based on the size of the loss and the level of insurance coverage elected by the producer.

A WHIP factor will be determined for each crop based on the producer’s coverage level.  Producers who elected higher coverage levels will receive a higher WHIP factor, the agency stated.

The 2017 WHIP payment factor ranges from 65 percent to 95 percent, depending upon the level of crop insurance coverage or NAP coverage that a producer obtained for the crop. Producers who did not insure their crops in 2017 will receive 65 percent of the expected value of the crop. Insured producers will receive between 70 percent and 95 percent of expected value; those who purchased the highest levels of coverage will receive 95-percent coverage.

Each eligible producer requesting 2017 WHIP benefits will be subject to a payment limitation of either $125,000 or $900,000, depending upon their average adjusted gross income, which will be verified.

The payment limit is $125,000 if less than 75 percent of the person or legal entity’s average adjusted gross income is average adjusted gross farm income. The payment limit is $900,000, if 75 percent or more of the average adjusted gross income of the person or legal entity is average adjusted gross farm income.

Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for 2017 WHIP. However, all producers receiving 2017 WHIP payments will be required to purchase crop insurance and/or NAP, at the 60 percent coverage level or higher, for the next two available crop years to meet statutory requirements.

Producers who fail to purchase crop insurance for the next two available crop years will be required to pay back the 2017 WHIP payment.

For more information on FSA disaster assistance programs, please contact the local USDA service center or visit HERE.

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