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Deadline for farm disaster assistance is Sept. 16

September 02, 2008

Colleen Cashell, executive director of USDA's Farm Service Agency in Washington County said residents who would otherwise be ineligible for the disaster assistance programs available through the 2008 Farm Bill have only a few weeks left to pay a fee so they can become eligible.

The buy-in fee is due no later than Sept. 16, 90 days after the date of enactment of the 2008 Farm Bill.

"The 2008 Farm Bill requires producers who wish to participate in the new disaster programs to have crop insurance or noninsured crop disaster assistance (NAP) coverage for the land for which assistance is being requested, and for all farms in all counties in which they have an interest," Cashell said.

According to Cashell, since the 2008 Farm Bill was enacted after the application periods had closed for those programs, producers who did not have such coverage could not comply with this requirement in order to be eligible for the new disaster programs.

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However, the Farm Bill authorizes a waiver that allows producers to pay a fee, called a "buy-in" fee, to be eligible for this new disaster assistance

Every producer whose crops, including grazing lands, are not fully covered by crop insurance or NAP may take advantage of this one-time opportunity.

"Those who miss this opportunity will not be eligible for 2008 disaster assistance," Cashell said.

The crop insurance and NAP coverage requirements will be waived in 2008 for producers who did not obtain crop insurance or NAP coverage by the applicable sales closing date, if the producer files an application for waiver and pays a buy-in fee in an amount equal to the 2008 applicable NAP coverage or catastrophic risk protection plan fee for the crop or grazing lands.

Producers are also reminded that the payment of the applicable buy-in fee does not afford the producer crop insurance or NAP coverage; it only provides eligibility for the 2008 disaster programs.

The buy-in fee for 2008 eligibility only for either the catastrophic risk protection insurance (CAT) or NAP is $100 per crop, but not more than $300 per producer per administrative county, or $900 total per producer for all counties less any previously paid fees for CAT and/or NAP. The applicable buy-in form must be completed and applicable fees paid by Sept. 16.

Producers can contact their local administrative FSA county office to file the application for waiver and pay the applicable fees.

In Washington County, farmers should visit the USDA Service Center at 1260 Maryland Ave, Suite 107, Hagerstown, MD 21740.

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