Producers who would otherwise be ineligible for new disaster assistance programs created under the new Farm Bill can become eligible by paying a “buy-in” fee, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced on Friday. By paying the fee, farmers who didn't buy crop insurance or buy into the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) can receive coverage from a multitude of programs in the Farm Bill.

To be eligible for the new programs, farmers were required to have either crop insurance or NAP coverage. However, because the law was enacted after the application periods for crop insurance and NAP expired, many producers were unable to meet this prerequisite. “Every producer whose crops, including grazing lands, are not fully covered by crop insurance or NAP may take advantage of this one-time opportunity,” The FSA said in a press release.

The buy-in fee is due no later than Sept. 16, 2008, 90 days after the date of enactment of the enactment of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, as required by the Act. Producers can contact their local administrative FSA County Office to file the application for waiver and pay the applicable fees. “Those who miss this opportunity will not be eligible for disaster assistance,” the FSA said. Payment of the applicable buy-in fee does not provide the producer with crop insurance or NAP coverage; it only affords eligibility for the 2008 disaster programs. The buy-in fee is $100/crop, but not more than $300/producer per administrative county, or $900/producer for all counties less any previously paid fees for Catastrophic Risk Protection (CAT) or NAP.

After paying the applicable fees, producers will be eligible for benefits for losses Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program, Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), Tree Assistance Program (TAP), and Emergency Assistance Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). The SURE program, commonly called the permanent disaster program, covers producers in designated disaster counties, contiguous counties that have suffered crop production or quality losses and any farm where weather has caused losses greater than half of normal production. Financial losses must be on the whole farm, not a crop, after insurance is paid out. SURE payments are capped at $100,000/producer.