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Area milk producers might be eligible for disaster assistance

January 01, 2008

Colleen Cashell, Washington County executive director for USDA's Farm Service Agency, said eligible dairy producers can sign up now for the Dairy Disaster Assistance Program.

Those eligible can sign up at the local FSA service center at 1260 Maryland Ave., Suite 107, Hagerstown.

Cashell says the program will help dairy producers recover production losses resulting from a variety of adverse weather conditions in the last few years.

The program provides $16 million in benefits to dairy producers for production losses that occurred between Jan. 1, 2005, and Feb. 28, 2007, because of qualifying natural disasters.

It compensates producers for production losses that resulted from lost herds or dumped milk when dairy plants closed or the natural disaster damaged containment equipment. Additionally, power outages, fuel shortages and infrastructure damage might have temporarily interrupted the flow of dairy products to markets.

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To be eligible for the program, dairy producers must have suffered losses in primary and contiguous counties declared or designated a natural disaster. Also, producers in counties receiving an FSA Administrator's Physical Loss Notice determination are eligible. Washington County is eligible due to a Disaster Declaration for drought and extreme heat in 2005.

USDA will calculate payments to eligible producers by multiplying the eligible pounds of lost production by the average price received for commercial milk production in the affected areas during the disaster period. If the total amount of funding (less any reserve established for disputed claims) is insufficient to compensate eligible producers for losses, then USDA will pay losses at two levels in an effort to more equitably distribute the limited funds and maximize the effectiveness of the program. USDA will provide more information on program provisions in a fact sheet, which will be posted online at disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

The program is authorized by the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007, signed into law on May 25 by President George Bush.

For more information on disaster programs administered by FSA, go to disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

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