Check in with your local Farm Service Agency office before harvest begins, if you haven't visited there recently. Steve Brown of Indiana FSA says some important deadlines are approaching.
First is the deadline for signing up for programs that will make you eligible for 2008 disaster programs, should such programs be announced. If you didn't have crop insurance this year, you can still insure eligibility in those programs, but to do so, you must buy a specific crop insurance policy from FSA by Sept. 16. That's the date to remember is you want to maintain eligibility for any disaster aid that might be announced for the '08 cropping season, and if you didn't buy crop insurance earlier this year.
Even if you did, it's a good idea to visit your local office and make sure all acres are registered properly. Make sure to register all acres in all crops, experts advise. Then should disaster payments be announced, you will be eligible to participate.
Deadlines for '09 crops are also approaching, according to Danny Greene of Greene Consulting, Franklin. Greene works with crop insurance customers. He recently advised his customers that Federal Crop Insurance for wheat must be purchased by Sept. 30 this fall if you want eligibility in '09 government programs for that corp. Pasture and hay must be registered by Nov. 20, and corn and soybeans for the '09 season must be registered by March 15, 2009.
Registering crops and meeting these deadlines will make you eligible for the 2009 SURE program. That stands for Supplemental Revenue program, Greene notes. You're eligible only if all acres are covered under Federal Crop Insurance of the NAP program. NAP stands for non-insurable crop programs.
Here's the bottom line, Greens says. To maintain your eligibility for government disaster aid programs, even though such programs may not yet exist, you need to make sure all I's are dotted and T's crossed at your local FSA office. That's why the crop consultant has advised his customers to visit with their local staff. It's especially critical if you didn't purchase federal crop insurance this year.
Congress originally invested in federal crop insurance, saying that would substitute for disaster payments in years to come. The theory was that farmers would have protection by having crops insured. By subsidizing the insurance on the front end, Congress wouldn't need to throw in large sums on the back end in years when disasters occurred. However, so far, almost every time there's a disaster, Congress still relents and provides aid in one form or another. They are not bound by law to do so, however.