As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 17, Congress reopened the window of opportunity for farmers to qualify for possible federal disaster payments for 2008 crops.
These payments were authorized in the new 2008 farm bill under the Supplemental Revenue Assistance (SURE) program.
To be eligible for SURE, crop producers were required to have purchased multiple peril crop insurance for all insurable crops that accounted for 5% or more of their expected gross value of crop production in 2008. Non-insurable crops that met the gross value threshold had to be covered under the Noninsured Assistance Program or NAP available from USDA's Farm Service Agency. For crops not already covered, farmers could pay a "buy-in" fee of $100 per crop to FSA by Sept. 16, 2008.
William Edwards, Iowa State University Extension farm economist, says farmers who did not insure all their 2008 crops with private crop insurance—and who now are willing to pay a fee can gain eligibility for SURE on those crops.
"The opportunity to obtain eligibility for 2008 crops by paying the buy-in fee has been extended for 90 days, until May 18, 2009," Edwards said. "Farmers who are eligible and want to take advantage of this have until May 18 to do so."
Late-enrolled crops can't receive insurance or NAP indemnity payments, but will be eligible for SURE according to Edwards. For purposes of SURE they will be considered to have a level of coverage not to exceed 70% of the proven yield and 100% of the indemnity price for crop insurance, or equal to 70% of the yield established under NAP.
Farmers who take advantage of this late enrollment opportunity also will be required to obtain coverage on their 2009 insurable crops of at least 70% of their proven yield and 100% of the indemnity price, and to obtain NAP coverage on other crops.
Farmers who insured all their required 2008 crops before the normal sales closing date (March 15 for corn and soybeans), or enrolled them for SURE coverage before the Sept. 16 deadline, will receive a small bonus. Their coverage levels for purposes of SURE will now be calculated as 120% of their crop insurance guarantee (instead of 115%) and 125% of their NAP guarantee (instead of 120%).
"The Farm Service Agency has not yet officially announced the reopening of SURE eligibility, so the above information may be subject to change," said Edwards. "If you have specific questions, contact your county FSA office."