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Signup for dairy disaster assistance going on until May 5

April 01, 2008

Colleen Cashell, executive director for USDA's Farm Service Agency in Washington County, announced that eligible dairy producers who suffered production losses from extreme heat conditions in 2005 or 2007 may apply to receive benefits under the Dairy Disaster Assistance Program III by visiting their local USDA Service Center.

Cashell says, based on the final rule published in the Federal Register on March 4, the program signup ends May 5.

"The program provides $16 million in benefits to dairy producers across the country for dairy production losses that occurred between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2007, because of natural disasters," Cashell said.

To be eligible, a producer's operation must be in a county designated a major disaster or emergency area by the president or declared a natural disaster area by the Secretary of Agriculture between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2007. Producers in contiguous counties are also eligible.

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The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veteran's Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 (2007 Act), signed by President Bush in May 2007, authorizes the program.

The 2007 Act charges USDA with implementing the program. The 2007 Act provides $16 million in disaster benefits. On Dec. 26, President Bush signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, which extends disaster payments to eligible producers who suffered dairy production losses throughout the 2007 crop year before Dec. 31.

FSA began enrolling producers in the program in late 2007 and then early this year, temporarily halted sign-up pending the completion of rule-making which began with the issuance of a proposed rule for public comments on the program. Based on public comments, FSA made minor changes to the proposed rules. These changes are explained in the final regulations.

Program applications are being taken manually and must be filed by May 5. Milk production evidence and dairy herd size for 2003, 2004 and the year(s) the milk producer is applying for the loss must be provided.

Washington County producers can contact the FSA Office for specific instructions at 301-797-0500, ext. 2. More information on the program and additional disaster assistance programs is available online at www.fsa.usda.gov/.

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