Deadline extended: agriculture disaster assistance

The deadline has been extended to Sept. 30 for farmers who need waivers from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to qualify for federal disaster insurance to help cover their losses from hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

“The deadline had been Sept. 16, but because some of the FSA offices were without power because of the hurricanes, the deadline was extended a couple of weeks,” said Kurt Guidry, LSU AgCenter agricultural economist.

Having crop insurance is a requirement for eligibility for federal disaster assistance according to the 2008 Farm Bill, Guidry said. Unfortunately, by the time the farm bill was finally passed, the deadline to purchase crop insurance had already passed for many commodities leaving some producers without the insurance coverage required for the disaster programs.

To compensate, the FSA has set up this system of waivers.

“Things are still confusing because the new farm bill was just recently passed,” Guidry said. “Many of the rules and regulations about how these disaster programs will be implemented are still in various stages of development. If farmers have any questions, they need to contact their local FSA office.”

The waiver extension applies in all but nine Louisiana parishes — Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Red River, St. Tammany, Washington and Webster.

The waiver fee is $100 per crop but no more than $300 per producer per parish, Guidry said.

“There’s a cap of $900 for producers who farm more than one crop in more than one parish,” Guidry said.

Because of the many complications with the new farm bill and disaster assistance, Guidry urges producers to call the local FSA office with questions.

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