CROP DISASTER PROGRAM

Crop producers could be eligible for the federal crop disaster program for the 2003 or 2004 crop year, provided they can document adequate reductions in crop production for specific crops in either of those years. Many of the details for the program are similar to the crop disaster programs for the 2001 and 2002 crop years. Signup for the crop disaster program started on March 14 at County Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices throughout the nation.

A producer may choose either 2003 or 2004 for the crop disaster program, but not both, and must choose the same year for all crops and on all farms. A producer must be able to document a 35 percent yield reduction from the “expected production” for any crop in order to be eligible for disaster payments. Quality losses for some crops will be covered in a similar manner to previous disaster programs. All producers are eligible for the crop disaster program, not just producers that are in counties that were declared “disaster counties” in 2003 or 2004. For insurable crops, the disaster payment rate is the federal crop insurance APH price for a given crop for the year of the crop loss. That rate will be multiplied by .65 for producers with crop insurance and times .60 for producers without crop insurance, which is a higher rate than the 2001-2002 crop disaster program. If the “total actual value” of the crop exceeds 95 percent of the “expected value” of the crop, the final disaster payment will be reduced accordingly by FSA down to the 95 percent level. The “total actual value” of the crop is the sum of the harvested crop value, crop insurance indemnity payments, and disaster payments for a given “farm unit.” The same documentation that was used to file claims for crop insurance in either 2003 or 2004 should also be able to be used for the crop disaster program by FSA offices. A producer that did not have crop insurance and files for the crop disaster program must agree to purchase crop insurance for the next two years. There is a maximum payment limit of $80,000 per producer for the crop disaster program, and persons with a gross revenue exceeding $2.5 million are not eligible for disaster program benefits. Contact County FSA offices for more information and details on the crop disaster program for 2003 and 2004, or check the USDA Web site : http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov

SOYBEAN RUST AND CROP INSURANCE
A lot of soybean producers are very concerned whether or not their 2005 crop insurance policies will provide coverage for losses incurred as a result of the disease Asian Soybean Rust that could impact soybean production in many areas this year. The crop insurance policy procedures for soybean rust are really no different that for any other disease or insect problem that affects soybeans or any other insurable crop. Producers are expected to use good cultural practices for crop production, which includes utilizing proper control methods to control weeds, insects and diseases. Producers are also expected to follow the recommendations of university specialists, crop consultants, and other experts regarding management of soybean rust. Producers should document field conditions, treatments applied, weather events, etc. during the growing season, and work very closely with their crop insurance agent to verify potential losses from soybean rust or other disease or insect problems. Many times the insect or disease problems occur simultaneously with weather problems, such as the soybean aphid outbreak and hot, dry weather in the Summer of 2003 in parts of Minnesota and Iowa. For more information on crop insurance coverage of losses due to soybean rust, producers should contact their Crop insurance Agent, or check the RMA Web site at : www.rma.usda.gov

Editors note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.