FSA Publishes Disaster Program Rules

Friday,June 27, 2003                               ByShawn Wade

      After months of workUSDA Farm Service Agency officials have finally approved and published therules governing the 2001-2002 Crop Disaster Program.

      The next scheduledarrival at County Farm Service Agency offices will be the much awaited paymentsoftware that will allow payments to go out to growers. Hopefully this lastpiece of the puzzle will be in place in the next couple of weeks now that therules are settled.

      Also on Thursday some200 counties nationwide also received the last of the files they needed toallow growers to go through the CDP sign-up process. Lubbock County was one ofthose counties and should now be in a position to begin signing producers upfor the program.

      Months of hard workhave gone into the process to transform rules used for the 2000 CDP into anappropriate set of regulations to govern what is a very different disasterprogram for the 2001 and 2002 crops.

      Producers will be gladto know that the final provisions do not include any surprise elements and thatinformation published on previous occasions to get them up to speed on theprogram has been indeed extremely accurate.

      The following is aquick refresher on the different aspects of the program and how payments andeligibility will be determined.

      Program eligibility forthe Crop Loss portion of the program remains unchanged from programs past. Toqualify a producer must have a documented loss in excess of 35 percent ofeither their crop insurance Actual Production History (APH) yield for thedisaster year, or the 5-year County average yield, whichever is higher.

      County average yieldsare computed taking the five years of data, dropping the high and low years,and averaging the remaining three years.

      The 2001-2002 CDPpayment yields will be determined by calculating the yield loss in excess ofthe 35 percent eligibility threshold and subtracting actual productionharvested during the growing season or the appraised production as determinedby Federal Crop Insurance rules.

      Production to count inthe CDP payment calculation can also be adjusted by quality if average qualitydata for crops harvested during the year is provided to the County Office.

      Additionally, aseparate bale-by-bale Quality Loss Program (QLP) is also available to producerswho suffered only quality losses or whose actual yield losses were not largeenough to meet the 35 percent loss threshold for the Crop Loss portion of theprogram.

      The stand-alone QualityLoss program will require a complete listing of all bales produced and theaverage loan value for each to determine eligibility and payment amounts.

      CDP payments will becalculated at three different payment levels. Insured crops will be paid at arate equal to 50 percent of the applicable crop insurance payment rate for thecrop. Non-insured crops will be paid at 45 percent of the applicable cropinsurance price. Non-insurable crops will be paid at a rate equal to 50 percentof the applicable price.

      Non-harvest factors willapply to the payment calculation for crops not taken to harvest. For TexasUpland cotton the non-harvest factor will be .88, meaning CDP payments will bereduced by 12 percent for cotton crops not taken to harvest.

      Program benefits arelimited for producers at $80,000 per person/entity. In addition to theindividual payment limitation an overall eligibility cap also exists thatexcludes individuals with adjusted gross incomes of greater than $2.5 millionfrom participating in the program.

      Because of the complexnature of the program and the many pieces of information that are required tocomplete the sign-up process it is important that producers do some advancepreparation before they get to the FSA office.

      One of the best waysfor producers to avoid problems is to pull together copies of the type ofinformation needed for the sign-up. This will provide a quick double-check ofthe data FSA receives from other sources, and can also be used to fill in themissing pieces that could hold-up the process.

      Taking the followingsteps should make everything move a little quicker.

1.   Identifyspecific production units that meet the minimum eligibility requirement of a35% or greater yield loss.

2.   Identifythe appropriate FSA Farm Number for each qualifying unit.

3.   Bringa recap sheet with the average quality of the bales produced on the unit and alisting of each bale’s loan value.

      One other importantpiece of information to remember about the new program is that anyone receivingbenefits will be required to carry Federal Crop Insurance in both 2003 and2004. For crops that the 2003 insurance sales closing date had passed beforepassage of the Agricultural Assistance Act the insurance requirement must befulfilled over the next two available crop years.

      CDP Participants whofail to comply with this provision will have to refund the full amount of CDPassistance they received plus interest.


Senate Redistricting Hearing June 30

Friday, June 27, 2003                           byRoger Haldenby

         TheSenate Jurisprudence Committee chaired by Senator Robert Duncan will hold ahearing on proposed Congressional Redistricting at the C.J. Davidson Building,San Angelo State University, in San Angelo on Monday, June 30 from 3:00 p.m.until all who wish have testified.

         Mapsof the existing and proposed new districts can be viewed at: http://www.plainscotton.org/rkh/redistrict.html