Are you SURE on farm bill disaster program?

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Farmers who don't insure small acreage crop may want the protection this year, especially if you're considering participating in a new 2008 Farm Bill production disaster program. The new Supplemental Revenue Assistance program, known as SURE, is designed to help protect against crop losses resulting from adverse weather, such as flooding or drought. To qualify a farmer must buy insurance for ALL insurable crops grown on the farm and pay the Noninsured Crop Assistance Program (NAP) fee for all noninsurable crops and practices on the farm. NAP includes hay and pasture.

The deadline for purchasing wheat insurance for 2009 is Sept. 30 and farmers who don't normally insure their wheat have a decision to make if they want to qualify for SURE for crops planted during the 2008-2009 crop year, explained Carl Zulauf, OhioStateUniversity agricultural economist.

"A lot of Ohio farmers grow some wheat, but they normally don't purchase insurance for it because it's a small acreage crop," Zulauf said. "However, if you buy insurance for corn and soybeans, but not for wheat, and you have a bad year for corn and soybeans, you are ineligible to receive SURE payments if you didn't purchase insurance for wheat.

"We want farmers to be aware of SURE, that it's a new program with a new set of conditions, and that they have a decision to make regarding crop insurance and NAP if they want to be eligible for SURE in the event of a weather-related disaster."

Farmers also have a buy-in opportunity to become eligible for SURE for the current 2007-2008 crop year if they did not buy crop insurance or NAP for crops on the farm. For more information about the buy-in opportunity, contact a local Farm Service Agency office.

Here's what farmers need to know about SURE:

  • SURE is a whole-farm program, meaning it encompasses the entire farming operation -- all acres in all counties on the farm. In order to qualify, a farmer must have purchased crop insurance and NAP for all crops grown on the farm.
  • Eligibility for a payment from SURE also requires that a farm be in a county declared a disaster area or contiguous to such county, or the farm has experienced a 50% reduction in production due to adverse weather.
  • With SURE, eligible farms increase their coverage by 15% for crops with insurance and by 20% for crops with NAP. There is a 90% coverage cap.
  • SURE has no fee. The financial requirement is the purchase of crop insurance and NAP.

Zulauf said that details of the SURE program might seem a bit complex, especially since it is a new program. Additionally, program details will depend on how the rules for SURE are written. To learn more about the SURE provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill, refer to the Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance in Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 at .

"While weather-related disasters historically are not as common in Ohio as in other parts of the country, farmers should ask themselves whether a weather disaster could potentially put the farm in jeopardy of bankruptcy," Zulauf said. "Is the potential for SURE to help you get through a natural disaster worth the additional cost to bring all of your crops under insurance and NAP? These are some things that farmers need to think about."

A publication from Kansas State University states SURE favors farmers with a single enterprise with all production in a single county and in counties with high production risk. 

The Missouri Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and other State FSA offices have posted a SURE calculator to estimate the SURE payments under the new disaster program. It is important to note that this calculator only addresses yield based crops and does not address value loss crops or those plans of insurance that are revenue based, including but not limited to, AGR or AGR Lite.

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