Farmers are still cleaning up after Hurricane Irene. But one of the most important tasks is making sure insurance agencies are contacted regarding any crop or building damage or livestock losses.
Farmers who experienced hurricane damage are reminded to stay in close contact with their crop insurance agents, reminds Maryland Ag Secretary Buddy Hance. A written notice of crop loss should be given to your crop insurance agent within 72 hours of discovering the damage or 15 days before harvesting begins. It must be done no later than October 20 for corn insured as tonnage for silage and December 10 for grain corn and soybeans.
USDA has already deployed personnel and resources to assist state and local authorities in responding to Hurricane Irene, said U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack earlier this week. "USDA is ready to provide food, emergency assistance and other resources to the affected areas.
"We continue to closely coordinate with many partners to meet the immediate and plan for the long-term needs of those affected by Hurricane Irene," he added. That includes farmers and landowners.
One of the next steps is to contact the local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Center to report damages to crops or livestock loss. Contact the local Rural Development office for housing or business assistance information and/or the local Natural Resources Conservation Service office for help with debris removal.
Housing assistance: USDA'S Rural Development is encouraging residents affected by the disaster to immediately apply for funding assistance under Rural single family housing loan and grant programs. Funds are available for housing repair, rehabilitation and home purchases.
For home financing, USDA will assist with expediting lender approval and approval for access to the Guaranteed Underwriting Services; and offer streamlined loan processing. Individuals needing payment assistance on their existing USDA Rural Development loans are encouraged to contact the Centralized Servicing Center at (800) 414-1226.
Conservation assistance: USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service state operations are prepared to work with local communities to determine Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) requests in the disaster areas. The program provides technical and financial assistance to preserve life and property threatened by excessive erosion and flooding.
Owners, managers, and users of private lands are eligible for EWP assistance if their watershed area has been damaged by a natural disaster. For example, exigency funding can be used to remove stream blockages and debris. Debris can include twisted trees and other woody vegetation as well as home construction materials.
EWP exigency funds also can be used for embankment stabilization and erosion control around culverts or bridges of open roads. If these areas are not protected and stabilized after a storm or flooding there is increased threat to life and property.
Business assistance: Rural businesses in Presidentially-declared disaster may be eligible for assistance through the Rural Business Service. Applicants or existing borrowers should contact their State USDA Rural Development office to determine which program is applicable.
Farm assistance: Farmers who have crop and or physical damage should also contact their local Farm Service Agency Service Center as soon as possible. County Emergency Boards, chaired by the USDA Farm Service Agency, are assisting with the response efforts and quickly assessing agricultural needs and determining the storms impact on crops.
Emergency loans are available through the FSA Emergency Loan Program for low-interest loans for crop and livestock production and physical losses. The loans are available in counties declared under a Presidential (FEMA) declaration or Secretarial disaster designation.
Assistance may also be available through the following FSA assistance programs:
Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program for crop revenue losses from quantity or quality deficiencies in those counties and contiguous counties declared disaster areas by the Agriculture Secretary or in cases where a farm's overall production loss exceeds 50%;
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for producers and ranchers who previously submitted an application for coverage for noninsured crop losses.
Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm Raised Fish for emergency relief to producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish who suffered losses from disaster such as adverse weather or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires not adequately covered by any other disaster program;
Livestock Indemnity Program for assistance to livestock producers for livestock deaths from disaster events, in excess of normal mortality;
The Tree Assistance Program for partial reimbursement to orchardists and nursery tree growers for replanting, salvage, pruning, debris removal and land preparation if losses due to natural disasters exceed 15%;
Producers who have existing direct loans with FSA in counties declared or contiguous to counties declared as disasters are eligible to be considered for Debt Set Aside (DSA). Under the DSA program, up to one full years payment can be moved to the end of the loan.